UK Consumers More Connected: Web, Mobile Use Up; TV, Radio Use Down

August 24, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Europe & Middle East | Media & Entertainment | Men | Radio | Retail & E-Commerce | Telecom | Television | Videogames | Women | Youth & Gen X

UK consumers now spend 50 hours per week on the phone, surfing the internet, watching television or listening to the radio, according to the 2007 edition of Ofcom’s annual “Communications Market Report,” which reveals new trends in the UK’s £50 billion ($100 billion) electronic communications sector (via paidContent).

Daily average use of the various communications media in 2006, compared with four years earlier, according to the report:

  • Average daily internet use, at 36 minutes, was up 158%.
  • Time spent on the mobile phone (almost 4 minutes per day) was up 58%.
  • Time spent watching TV was down 4%, at 3 hours and 36 minutes.
  • Listening to radio was down 2%, at 2 hours and 50 minutes.
  • Time spent on a fixed-line phone was down 8%, at 7 minutes.

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While consumers are getting more out of their communications services, the amount they are spending on them continues to fall: In 2006, average household spend on communications services was £92.65 per month, down from £94.03 in 2005.

The 330-page Ofcom report examines how consumers are using new digital communications services to take control of how, when and where they access and use communications services. In particular:

  • The range of services and devices now available to children (8-15 years old) in the UK is rapidly changing what they do with their time. Over 75% of 11-year-olds now have their own television, game console and mobile phone. Some 15% of 13-15-year-olds and 7% of 10-year-olds also have their own webcam.
  • Fewer children are playing console and computer games (61% regularly did so in 2005, down to 53% in 2007), watching videos and DVDs (59% did so regularly in 2005 and 38% in 2007) and listening to radio (40% listened regularly in 2005 and 20% in 2007).
  • Instead, children are using their mobile phones more often (50% regularly did so in 2005 compared with 53% in 2007), surfing the internet (47% regularly in 2005 to 52% in 2007) and using MP3 players (20% regularly in 2005 to 28% in 2007).
  • Older people are also consuming more media. The over 55s was the only age group to increase its average radio listening between 2002 and 2007 (up 5.5%). Moreover, some 16% of over-65s use the web, spending an average of 42 hours online every month – more than any other age group. In fact, one quarter of all UK internet users are over 50, and the over-50s account for 30% of total time spent online.

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  • Among 25-34-year-olds, women spend more time using the internet than men. In this age group, 2.18 million women users account for 55% of total time spent online. By comparison, just 1.83 million 25-34-year-old men in the UK use the internet.

Convergence – bringing technologies, platforms and devices closer together – is connecting the UK as never before, according to Ofcom.

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Consumers can now get live TV over their mobile, radio over their TV and make voice calls on the internet:

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  • There is now an even greater range of bundled communications services providing landline, broadband, digital television and mobile in a single package. As a result, the number of consumers taking services in bundles rose to 40% of the population by April 2007, up by one-third over 12 months.
  • Consumers are increasingly using telephone services over the internet offered by VoIP providers. At the end of 2006, 20% of respondents to Ofcom’s survey said they were phoning online, up from 14% at the end of 2005.
  • The UK population is increasingly relying on mobile phones. By the end of 2006, there were more than double the number of mobile connections (69.7 million) than landline connections (33.6 million). More UK households now rely just on a mobile phone (9%) than rely just on a landline (7%); and, for the first time, total mobile call minutes (82 billion) accounted for over one-third of all call minutes (234 billion).
  • Today’s consumers are using their mobiles for much more than just making phone calls. Some 41% of mobile phone users regularly use their phone as a digital camera, 13% use it for internet access, 10% listen to FM radio broadcasts, and 21% use it as a mini game console. In 2006, mobile users in the UK sent 20% more texts than the previous year, with an average of 12 text messages per mobile per week.

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  • Wireless networks are allowing more people to access the internet when on the move. Some 11.2% (7.8 million) of mobile phones now connect to a 3G network (70% up vs 2005 at 4.6 million). The number of Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK, which enable broadband speed wireless internet access, is also increasing. By April 2007, there were 11,447 hotspots compared with 10,339 a year earlier.
  • Digital television – in 80.5% of UK homes by April 2007 – is changing what, when and how TV is watched. One of the new services being used by viewers in the 11.5 million subscription television households is high-definition (HD) television. The report finds that, in the 450,000 homes that have it, 33% of viewing time is spent watching in HD; 43% of those surveyed said they watch more television – especially premium content such as films and sport – as a result of having HD.
  • By April 2007, 15% of respondents said they had a digital video recorder (DVR), almost double the number at the end of 2006.
  • Radio listeners have a much wider choice of stations and ways of listening due to the growth of digital radio. In 2006, the total number of DAB digital radio sets sold broke through the 5 million mark, and 17.2% of UK homes now have a DAB digital radio. DAB sets accounted for 18.6% of all radio sales in 2006 (1.8 million sets) compared with 12.9% in 2005 (1.5 million sets).
  • DAB is not the only way that consumers listen to digital radio. The report finds that 33% of consumers have listened to the radio via digital television (15% do so at least weekly), 21-22% listen online (12% at least weekly) and 10-12% listen via their mobile phone (6% at least weekly).

The full report is available online at: www.ofcom.org.uk/research/cm/cmr07.

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