Traditional news channels have beaten Netflix to secure the top spots on the nation’s television appetite as audiences increasingly drift to different media outlets, according to Ofcom’s latest annual Media Nations report.
BBC One emerged as the viewers’ first port of call when switching on the TV last year, capturing 20 per cent of the audience, closely followed by regional news broadcasting service ITV1 at 13 per cent.
Netflix took the third spot with six per cent of surveyed individuals turning to the binge-inducing streamer’s content before anything else.
The report revealed that broadcasters’ content accounts for 60 per cent of daily TV and video consumption, equal to 2 hours and 41 minutes per person each day.
However, Ofcom’s research also showed a concerning trend for traditional broadcasters, as the percentage of viewers tuning in on a weekly basis witnessed the steepest annual decline ever recorded, dropping from 83 percent in 2021 to 79 percent in 2022.
Since 2014, the number of news programmes attracting over 4m viewers has dropped from 537 to 148 programmes.
Only 48 programmes averaged more than 4m viewers on streaming platforms in 2022, with Netflix accounting for the “vast majority”.
According to Nick Swimer, partner at Reed Smith, the report suggests “TV is not dead but certainly ailing.”
“In a period of heightened misinformation, disinformation and hate speech,” he said, “the decline in watching regulated news is a wider concern for society.”
“This decline has been predicted for years and urgently needs addressing by the passing into law of the long-awaited Media Bill. The DCMS might though wish to consider Ofcom’s report carefully and whether current due prominence proposals go far enough to promote high-quality, properly regulated public service content for viewers,” Swimer added.
Fragmented media audiences
Yih-Choung Teh, group director of strategy and research at Ofcom, described the increased competition vying for viewers’ attention in the current media landscape as an “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
He said: “Our traditional broadcasters are seeing steep declines in viewing to their scheduled, live programmes – including among typically loyal older audiences – and soaps and news programmes don’t have the mass-audience pulling power they once had.”
The report showed a silver lining for the streaming industry as older viewers appear to be diversifying their viewing habits, increasingly adopting streaming services.
Out of the people who subscribe to Disney+, the proportion of those who are over-64s grew from seven per cent in 2022 to 12 percent in 2023.
The rise of social video platforms among young audiences also played a role in the shift away from traditional TV.
Tiktok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram are major players, with Tiktok leading the pack as users aged 15 to 24 spend nearly an hour day scrolling on the addictive platform due to its savvy algorithm.
Despite this, public service broadcasters are “still unrivalled in bringing the nation together at important cultural and sporting moments,” Teh added.
Public service broadcasters were applauded for delivering broadcast events that “bring the nation together for a shared viewing experience”.
In particular, England’s Fifa World Cup quarter-final, HM Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral, and the Platinum Jubilee emerged as the most-watched programmes in 2022.