Tablet vs television set: How our viewing habits are changing

BBC iplayerIt’s been in the corner of our living rooms since just after the Second World War. But, apparently, we’re now turning our backs on the television set, in favour of our phones, tablets and laptops.

New figures from the BBC show that record numbers of people are abandoning their living room TV sets to watch shows on more modern gadgets.

The BBC, which itself dates back to 1922, has revealed more people than ever are viewing its iPlayer on-demand service.

During 2012, an incredible 36.5bn minutes of BBC programmes were watched or listened to on iPlayer. That’s a 34 per cent increase on previous figures.

opening ceremonyIt was definitely the year of the Olympics, with Danny Boyle’s show-stopping Olympic Opening Ceremony topping iPlayer viewing, with more than 3.3m requests, followed by Top Gear with 2.8 million and Sherlock with 2.5m.

The biggest trend, said the BBC, was a big increase in iPlayer requests coming from mobiles and tablets. By the end of the year, there had been a 177 per cent increase of requests coming from the gadgets, meaning mobile and tablet viewing made up more than a quarter of iPlayer requests.

The development led to nearly 14m downloads of the BBC’s iPlayer mobile app. The biggest single download of the app was on Christmas Day as recipients of gadgets like the Kindle Fire HD and iPad made the most of their new gifts.

Downloaded programmes make up six per cent of television viewing on mobiles and tablets, showing we prefer to decide when we
watch our favourite programmes.

Rise of the iPlayer

Daniel Danker, who is general manager of programmes and on-demand for the BBC, described 2012 as a “ground-breaking year for BBC iPlayer,” with 2.32bn requests for programmes across 650 platforms.

“Last year,” he added, “the use of iPlayer shifted from PCs and early adopter devices like game consoles to screens used by all audiences. Mobile, tablet and connected TV skyrocketed, with a particular emphasis on audiences taking iPlayer on the go.

Danker said BBC plans for 2013 were to turn iPlayer into an “entertainment destination” which was as easy and enjoyable to view as regular television.

TV viewing

The statistics come as separate research by broadbandchoices.co.uk, which compares broadband deals, found that a third of people would choose to watch programmes on a tablet, smartphone or laptop instead of their TV set.

It’s a pattern analysts say will continue, with experts predicting that by 2018, the ordinary television set will no longer be the primary viewing device in most homes in the UK as on-demand TV continues to see a rise in popularity.

Earlier statistics from industry regulator Ofcom show that traditional television viewing among a young demographic fell from an average of 3.5 hours every day to 3.3 hours each day from 2005 up until 2011.

But, that’s not to say we’re watching less, we’re actually watching an average of 90 minutes extra video, movie and TV content every day, compared to a decade ago, according to the survey.

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