TV Past, Present and Future in the UK
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
In March 2022, Point Topic and Netgem commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey on video, ISPs and what channels people were watching.
The results paint a picture of a market in the process of fragmenting itself once more after a period of slow, stable transition from analogue aerial only delivery, via a couple of dominant online channels and providers to today’s picture, a crazy paving of subscriptions (paid and free), channels, providers and choices, choices, choices.
Unsurprisingly aerial ownership is on the wane with already less than 50% of respondents in London and Scotland owning an aerial
YouTube tops the charts as the most regularly viewed streaming channel amongst survey participants
Netflix still leads the SVOD market, but showing signs of decreasing its dominance as it loses a record number of subscribers and clamps down on password sharing
Consumers want choice, but they also want a consolidation of services; just over a third (33%) of respondents would change their broadband provider if they offered a bundled curated TV package
Consolidation of affordable content services will be the step-change in the marketplace in the near future
Delivery today is all digital, increasingly online and available on the go.
For those number of respondents who had a TV aerial we asked, Approximately, how often, if at all, do you/your household make use of your TV aerial? When looking at the weighted usage results by region (Figure 1), 56.2% of respondents in Wales used their aerial every day, followed by the North East with 55.7% and the West Midlands with 54.5%.
Viewers can now view an incredible amount of content across various digital platforms. However, having more methods of access, such as Smart TV, tablet, laptop or mobile device does not necessarily equate to ease of access to content.
Survey participants were asked, Thinking specifically about how you use your TV set or monitor to watch video content...Which, if any, of the following streaming devices/services do you ever use? (Please select all that apply).
Content consumers accessing streaming services use a variety of methods (Figure 2), however nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) do so directly from their Smart TV. The TV still dominates the living room in the UK and vendors are slowly improving interfaces as well, although that can be a major challenge.
Channels and Streaming Services Viewing Today
We asked survey participants, Approximately how often, if at all, do you watch each of the following channels / streaming platforms?
Respondents had several options in terms of the frequency in which they viewed content we are looking at the number of participants who watched a service more than once a week or more (Figure 3). The age profiles reveal more segmentation with no one service having a blanket appeal to all age groups.
In the UK, the adoption of TV and video streaming services has steadily been on the rise in recent years and saw an unprecedented rise in adoption levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite viewers spending less overall time watching TV since national lockdowns have eased, they have not lost their drift to viewing content via online streaming services.
The decline of TV aerial usage coupled with overall live public service broadcaster (PSB) viewership also indicates that consumers are and will increasingly turn towards online on-demand video content as a matter of preference.
With the diversity, choice, and fragmentation of online streaming services available to UK consumers the future of these services as standalone products will start to slowly lose their appeal. As HBO found out in the 80’s your subscribers can churn away quickly.
Given that a large proportion of UK households subscribe to at least one SVOD service (e.g. Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+) whilst also accessing catch-up BVOD (iPlayer, ITV Hub) content (87% of all respondents asked), users personal TV habits are beginning to focus on a handful of services that cater to their needs. TV services that offer hundreds of channels or Smart TVs that come with a plug and play Freeview IPTV service may be an ideal choice for some but certainly not all.
Bearing this in mind, we looked at survey respondents’ propensity to switch providers and asked, Please imagine that a broadband provider were to offer all/most of the video channels you would like to watch as a bundled subscription, with one bill covering all of the services and devices you use. How likely or unlikely would you be to change your existing broadband provider to receive the above bundle?
When looking at this topic by region (Figure 8), consumers in the North East (41%), South East (36%), Scotland (35%) and the North West (34%) would be most likely to switch if the right service was offered in their area. Worth noting is that Scotland (15%) and both the North East (15%) and North West (19%) are among the regions whose TV viewers never use their TV aerials to view video content.
The digital TV landscape has shifted significantly toward online channels, but the market is congested with choice and can result in a fragmented experience for the user. Streamlining of services will result in a changing landscape for the streaming giants, as consumers seek out curated services available via their ISPs. Whereas a wide range of choice was considered a selling point in recent years, consolidation of affordable content services will be the step-change in the marketplace in the near future.
 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2233 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th - 10th March 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
 The corresponding table of survey results outlining TV aerial frequency of usage by region can be found in Appendix 2 of the full report attached.
 The corresponding table of survey results outlining net weekly TV channels or streaming accesses by age group can be found in Appendix 3.
 The corresponding table of survey results outlining users’ propensity to change ISP by region can be found in Appendix 5.