Late February saw the newly released TV audience trends presentation from Thinkbox, the marketing body for Commercial TV in the UK, at the Ham Yard Hotel, W1. The Skin team were in attendance, and here are four of the key headlines.

Video viewing is declining

Video viewing overall in 2022 shows a declining pattern. This same period, of course, was the first full year where the consumer was not exposed to any lockdowns and a ‘return to normal’ was evident. Interestingly the jagged lines depict that total video viewing is pretty much back to 2015 levels across all video-based channels, however, when accounting for SVOD viewing, this is the first time we have seen a drop in SVOD audience since the uptake of subscription models at the start of the pandemic where the likes of Netflix increased their subscriber base amongst older audiences.

SVOD, as shown, continues to eat away at linear broadcast TV with its strategy of delivering high-quality content supported by large production investment, and the viewer’s experience has been enhanced further with the continued improvements of broadband capability.

The BBC and ITV dominate

Excluding films and sports programming, the BBC & ITV continue to top the charts on popular programming genres across celebrity and drama with just Netflix accounting for four of the top 30. It is worth noting that of those four, Stay Close and Afterlife are British productions with British actors and perhaps this chart outlines the importance of UK original content when it comes to reaching mass audiences on TV.

Commercial broadcasters are unrivalled for scale

With the BARB data now even more granular, we can gain insight into the viewing picture across two key measures – the average daily reach next to the average amount of time viewing.

The size and area of the bubble account in terms of the total volume of viewing. If you’re a retailer brand, consider this as customer footfall vs average basket size!

BBC: 25m average daily viewers at around 2hrs per day

YouTube: 20m / 2hrs (in-home data only)

Netflix: 15m / 2hrs (around 75% of the UK population have access to Netflix)

SVOD: Disney, Amazon etc. 5m / 1.5hrs (limited reach by paywalls)

Twitch: 500k / 2.5hrs (Small reach but fanatical followers)

Despite these results, the commercial broadcasters when viewed as a single buying point entity, that is fully regulated, certainly provide the advertiser consideration for mass audience reach. The picture is similar when looking at 16-34yr olds. However, the bubbles do move closer between the Broadcaster & SVOD/AVOD channels.

BVOD weighs the odds

Analysis was undertaken by Thinkbox and PWC in 2022 to understand the weight of viewing across Linear TV and focussing in particular on the middle-tier audience group (TV reach extenders) that account for 17m of the population. This audience is more likely, on a ratio of 1:4, to be reached through BVOD platforms rather than Linear where the ratio is 1:14. Planning across a complimentary Linear and BVOD approach will ensure advertisers pick up those harder-to-reach viewers.

In summary

  • We are entering a period of more stability in viewing patterns, but… the slow shift of viewing from linear to on-demand will continue.
  • The commercial broadcasters reach 33m viewers a day.
  • BVOD offers a key means of reaching lighter viewers.
  • TV continues to offer incredible value for money to advertisers with modest budgets.
  • There is a big share of voice opportunity for brands this year.
Ian Southey

Ian Southey

Co-founder and Director of Skin Communications