The Viewing Report

Updated Insight

12 May 2020

Every year in The Viewing Report, BARB examines UK television viewing behaviour in the previous year from three key angles:

  • Timeshift – how much timeshifted television did UK viewers watch? When and why did timeshifted viewing peak and dip? Which genre was the most timeshifted? And which demographic and region were responsible for the most timeshifted viewing?
  • Share by genre – How did the genres rank by share of total TV viewing? Which genres saw significant increases or decreases in their share, and why?
  • Share by broadcaster – How did the major broadcaster groups rank by share of audience? Which of their channels had the highest share?

Here we’ll find out the answers to these questions for 2019 viewing.

For further updates on viewing trends, check out the Trendspotting tab, which features quarterly trackers of metrics such as device access, SVOD households and UK households by TV platform.

Source: BARB

Although timeshifted viewing continues to see overall increases in the long-term, there was a slight flattening in the growth rate this year, with a 0.7 percentage point rise over 2018. This compared to 0.9 points from 2017 to 2018. With no summer football tournament this year, declines in this period were less than in 2018.

Source: BARB

In 2019, drama continued to be the genre that saw the most timeshifted viewing, with almost 33% of viewing occurring after a live broadcast. Once again, adults 25-34 led the way in timeshifted viewing, with a 2.7 percentage point uplift on 2018, to over 25% of their viewing. The North East saw a uplift in timeshifted activity, increasing 1.4 percentage points over 2018 and moving above the national average.

Share by genre
Source: BARB

With entertainment remaining the leading genre, it’s interesting to note that the drama category has stabilised somewhat after declines in the early 2010s. Levels for drama have now been flat since 2016. With 2019 lacking a sporting event on the same scale as the 2018 FIFA World Cup, this genre experienced its usual odd-year drop, despite the strong showing of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Men’s Rugby World Cup. This fall for sport, along with the continued longer-term decline in the amount of viewing taken by the film genre, has allowed hobbies/leisure to move up two ranking places to fifth overall, its highest-ever position. And in a year where there were also plenty of talking points for the news genre, this increased to 10.8% of viewing, another record amount.

Focus on hobbies/leisure
From long-running stalwarts like BBC1’s Antiques Roadshow, to newer favourites like Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau or ITV’s Love Your Garden, the hobbies/leisure genre continued to strengthen in 2019.

The Christmas special of BBC1’s The Repair Shop, one of the most-watched broadcasts in the genre this year, also demonstrated that viewing on a non-TV device is not always only for younger demographics. 51% of the show’s audience on TV sets was from viewers 65+, and viewing on PCs and tablets also saw a similar skew, with 47% and 49% respectively.

Share by broadcaster
A number of mergers and acquisitions impacted the top ten broadcaster groups in 2019: the addition of the NBCUniversal channels to Sky; the merger of Viacom and CBS; and Discovery’s acquisition of some former UKTV channels. These moves created space in the top ten for A+E Networks and The Walt Disney Company, the latter of which benefited from the arrival of the former FOX Networks Group channels into its portfolio.