British young people spend more time on TikTok than watching TV

Young people in the UK spend more time scrolling through the social media site TikTok than watching broadcast television, according to a Wednesday Ofcom report highlighting the growing generational gap in media habits.

In its annual survey of consumption trends, the media regulator found that 16- to 24-year-olds watched traditional TV broadcasts for an average of 53 minutes a day, just a third of the level a decade ago.

By contrast, people over 65 spent seven times longer on channels such as BBC One or ITV, and watched almost six hours of television broadcasts a day – a figure that has risen since 2011.

The faster adoption of streaming services and social media among young people poses an increasing challenge to broadcasters as they try to cope with an economic slowdown, satisfy their most loyal older viewers and invest to keep up with rapidly changing consumption habits. .

Ofcom said the pandemic-driven surge in traditional TV consumption was largely over, with time spent watching broadcasters — live or via on-demand platforms — dwindling by nearly 9 percent since 2020.

While public broadcasters, including the BBC and Channel 4, are well regarded by younger adults, their weekly reach is steadily declining among those age groups. In 2021, for example, less than half of 16- to 24-year-olds watched programs on a public broadcaster such as the BBC, ITV or Channel 4 for at least 15 minutes a week.

Meanwhile, the reach of subscription streaming services, such as Netflix and Disney Plus, and social video platforms, including YouTube and TikTok, has grown rapidly over the past decade.

A survey for Ofcom by polling agency Ipsos estimated that 15- to 24-year-olds spent 57 minutes a day on TikTok alone. This is longer than the 53 minutes that the 16-24 age group spends watching television broadcasts, according to a separate survey for Ofcom by TV ratings agency BARB.

The challenges of the looming recession are already becoming apparent, for broadcasters and streamers alike.

The revenues of the largest subscription streaming services continued to grow rapidly in 2021, with an estimated increase of 27 percent, driven largely by price increases. But the proportion of households paying for at least one service fell in the second quarter of 2022.

The pressure on the market was offset by the fact that some families were more open to taking out multiple subscriptions. About 5.2 million UK households – almost a fifth of the total – pay for all three Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus, at a cost of nearly £300 a year.

Traditional TV continues to host the vast majority of the most-watched programs, including major sports leagues and hit dramas such as Line of Duty.

But broadcasters are struggling to keep up with US streaming rivals. While the BBC’s iPlayer has set new ratings, reaching 6.5 billion streams in 2021, it lags far behind Netflix, which attracted around 20 billion views last year.

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