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Ofcom: U.K. Younger Demo Watching Seven Times Less Scheduled Television Than Seniors

Younger consumers (16-24 years old) in the United Kingdom now watch almost seven times less scheduled TV than those aged 65 and over, as the generation gap in media habits reaches a record high, according to new data from Ofcom, the government regulator for communications services in the United Kingdom.

The younger demo spends less than an hour (53 minutes) in front of broadcast TV in an average day — down 66% in the last 10 years.

By comparison, the older demo still spends around 33% of their waking day consuming broadcast TV, sitting down for almost six hours (5 hours and 50 minutes) daily. This is actually slightly higher than a decade ago.

The changes in younger adults’ habits reflect the soaring popularity of U.S.-based, on-demand streaming services.

Around 20% of homes (5.2 million) subscribe to all three of the most-popular platforms — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ — costing around £300 ($361) per year.

Ninety percent of 18- to 24-year-old adults bypass TV channels and head straight to streaming, on-demand and social video services when looking for something to watch, with Netflix the most common destination.

However, 59% of 55- to 64-year-olds and 76% of those aged 65-plus still turn to TV channels first.

After years of strong growth, the number of homes using streaming services began to slow in the U.K. in 2021, before starting to decline in spring of this year.

As the rising cost of living puts pressure on household budgets, the number subscribing to at least one streaming service fell by more than 350,000 to 19.2 million.

However, cancellations do not necessarily represent customers that have been lost for good. Ofcom’s survey of subscribers who canceled earlier this year found that almost three quarters (73%) of customers said they thought they would resubscribe — reflecting the flexibility that allows customers to pick up and drop subscriptions depending on changes in programs, needs or circumstances.

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