Netflix and Britain: We're now a nation of 40m binge watchers, but BBC iPlayer and broadcasters beat US streaming services

Lynsey Barber
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Just one more: Viewing TV episodes back-to-back is keeping us up at night (Source: Getty)

Britain is now a nation of binge watchers, as 40m of us watch more than one episode at a time, new research reveals.

But traditional broadcasters remain more popular for satisfying that appetite than Netflix from which the watching habit sprung.

More than three quarters of UK adults watch a back-to-back episode on catch-up or via a streaming service, Ofcom's annual Communications Market Report found. More than half of us binge watch at least once a month, and more than a third once a week.

Read more: You'll soon be able to watch Amazon Prime Video on Apple TV

BBC iPlayer is the most popular service, watched by 63 per cent of the nation, followed by The ITV Hub (40 per cent) and then YouTube (38 per cent). Netflix was the fourth most popular and Amazon Prime seventh, with 31 per cent and 20 per cent of viewers watching, respectively.

Rank Service Watchers
1 iPlayer 63%
2 ITV Hub 40%
3 YouTube 38%
4 Netflix 31%
5 Recorded TV 28%
6 All 4 26%
7 Amazon Prime 20%
8 My5 18%
9 Facebook 16%
10 Sky Go 12%

The preference for traditional TV broadcasters was found among generations from young to old.

“Technology has revolutionised the way we watch TV. The days of waiting a week for the next episode are largely gone, with people finding it hard to resist watching multiple episodes around the house or on the move," said Ofcom consumer group director Lindsey Fussell. “But live television still has a special draw, and the power to bring the whole family together in a common experience.”

Binge watching has yet to overtake traditional TV viewing, with nine in 10 still tuning in to scheduled TV each week and a third saying watching telly together was still part of family life.

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While the majority of people - 70 per cent - said they found it relaxing and enjoyable, a third of binge watchers said that the habit is bad for them, costing them sleep and making them tired. And a similar number said they were trying to cut down on it, rising to nearly half among young people.

Among those trying to cut back some were even ditching their subscriptions (four per cent), though more were just rationing their viewing (19 per cent) or finding another hobby (10 per cent).

The habit has been driven in part by faster internet speeds, and more connected devices. Meanwhile, the favourite place to binge watch is the bedroom, followed by when on holiday, and then commuting.

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