According to the Ofcom Communications Market 2018 report the take up of smart TV usage is proportionally one of the fastest growing forms of TV consumption in the UK. Smart TV’s allow you to view digital TV broadcasts but where they differ from traditional HD TV sets is that they can connect to the Internet so users can access catch up on demand TV or stream direct from platforms such as Netflix, NOW TV or YouTube.

Smart TV usage figures start in 2012 and show that just 5% of adults had access to a smart TV. Each year smart TV ownership figures have grown significantly to the extent that just 6 years later in 2018 there is 42% usage in the UK.

Interestingly the number of users of DVR boxes has seen a slow but steady drop in numbers from 2016 (61% usage) through to 2018 (56%) so it would appear that the honeymoon period of the digital switchover in the UK has ended and users are slowly moving away from traditional live HD programming in favour of on demand streaming services accessed through smart TVs.

Watching live TV is still the most popular form of watching programming and likely will be for some time but there are an increasing number of other activities and ways to view on a smart TV that are bound to grow in popularity.

Popular viewing habits using a smart TV

From Ofcom data sourced from the Cross-Platform Media Tracker 2017 we have the following most popular smart TV viewing activities ranked by order of most popular first.

  1. 77% – Watch TV live when it is broadcast
  2. 60% – Watch TV catch up content from providers such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, etc.
  3. 33% – Watch streamed content from paid subscription content from providers such as Netflix, NOW TV or Amazon Prime
  4. 29% – Watch short clips or videos via websites like YouTube or Facebook (less than 10 minutes in length)
  5. 29% – Watch free on demand content from their TV provider subscription services
  6. 22% – Watch longer clips or videos from websites such as YouTube or Facebook (longer than 10 minutes in length)
  7. 14% – Watch paid video on demand through a TV service provider
  8. 9% – Watch TV, box sets or movies on a streamed or downloaded basis from a service such as Google Play, iTunes Store, PlayStation Store, or TalkTalk TV Store

As expected, the most popular TV viewing methods are both free to view options – watching live TV when broadcast and using free catch up TV services.

The next most popular viewing activity on a smart TV is to pay for streamed content. It seems quite incredible that a third of adult owners of smart TVs pay for some sort of streamed entertainment subscription in 2017.

The flexibility of contract and ease to stream content (legally) via a paid TV subscription makes the option an increasingly viable solution for hundreds of thousands of users in the UK. This would appear to be the big growth area on TV consumption and figures are expected to rise over the coming years.

A consequence of the rise of content streaming is the added data transfer being shifted via the average smart TV owners’ broadband account. If you stream HD content online you will need to have a fast broadband connection and an unlimited usage broadband plan otherwise you could end up paying extra fees for having gone over your allotted data transfer limits.

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