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Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

UK TV: ‘Generation Gap’ Widens. Viewing Time Drops. Ofcom Annual Report

The UK broadcast regulator Ofcom confirms a very significant shift in British viewing habits:

  • People under 25 are watching around 25% less broadcast TV than in 2010.
  • And they are shifting from Live and Recorded TV to VOD as well as ‘Short online video clips’.

These important findings are published in Ofcom’s Public Service Broadcasting Annual Report 2016.

16-24 Loves VOD! 

  • The 16-24 demo has “particularly embraced on-demand services”.
  • Live TV accounts for just 36% of their daily viewing.
  • That’s down 14% in two years.


Viewing On TV Sets

  • “TV viewing on TV sets has fallen substantially in the last five years, with a widening gap between the viewing habits of the youngest and oldest audiences,” said Ofcom.
  • “Among all those who have a TV set in the home, lower proportions of people under 35 watch TV in a typical week, compared to older age groups.”
  • On average, people in the UK watched 3 hours 36 minutes of measured broadcast TV in a typical day in 2015, compared to 4 hours and 02 minutes in 2010.


  • The average weekly reach of total broadcast TV is 82% among the 16-24 demo.
  • That compares with 97% for adults aged 65+.

VOD Rising
“One of the potential reasons for the decrease in viewing among younger age groups is the increase in popularity of on-demand services.”
“Around six in ten adults now use on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer, All 4, Netflix or Amazon, with reach rising to around seven in ten among 15-24s and 25-34 year olds.” Ofcom

Ten year Outlook

  • Ofcom said that taking a 10-year view, daily viewing looks resilient, but this is because the oldest viewer groups sustain viewing levels.
  • There are “marked declines” in viewing among all other age groups, including children.


  • We’re all watching for any erosion of popular and political support for the TV set license fee that funds so much quality Factual TV in the UK, and then in the U.S. and worldwide through copro’s and sales.
  • Key question: More people are getting their video kicks without a TV set. Won’t more of these voters ask: “Why should we pay?” And more UK politicians ask: “Why should we make them pay?”



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