Half of Brits ditching the TV guide for time-shifted telly

9th October 2014

  • Technology transforming British TV viewing habits
  • Trending shows trigger ‘reflex recording’
  • Sports get shoved to second screens during battle for the TV
  • Changing behaviours give rise to new TV archetypes

The latest study and statistics from Virgin Media have revealed technology is transforming the way the nation watches television.

Data from over 2.3 million Virgin Media TiVo® set-top boxes shows a fifth of all TV is now watched in a time-shifted format; either first recorded onto the hard drive of a set-top box or else watched on demand. This was not even possible twelve years ago before the first personal video recorders or cable television’s introduction of video on demand by a precursor to Virgin Media. Virgin Media customers already watch over one billion programmes on demand each year.

According to the latest study by Virgin Media, almost half (43%) of people mostly watch time-shifted TV, with 20% tuning in to live TV only for must-see moments. Just 30% predominantly watch live TV.

Growth in the popularity of time-shifted TV has been driven by a boom in series stacking and the availability of entire Box Sets on demand, allowing people to watch multiple episodes of TV series back-to-back. One in ten says they dedicate all their viewing time to a single series at a time, with 40% switching between different series depending on their mood.

Data from Virgin Media reveals recorded TV series and one-off shows are typically watched within 14 days after having been broadcast, while movies are often kept for longer and enjoyed on a weekend.

Second-screen trending

Over a third (34%) of people are using second screens while watching TV. 78% of these multi-taskers are typically checking and updating social media sites.

Virgin Media data shows customers are being influenced by social media recommendations. They are quick to set up a series link when a show trends online, giving rise to a surge in ‘reflex recording’. Online buzz around season premieres of popular shows like The Great British Bake Off and Dynamospark the biggest surges in setting up automatic recordings for entire series on Virgin Media TiVo.

Virgin Media data also suggests people are also using their smartphones, tablets and computers to avoid telly-viewing conflicts, with sports content often getting relegated second screens when there’s a big match on. On the last day of the Premier League this year, Virgin Media saw a 38% increase in the use of Virgin TV Anywhere, the most comprehensive streaming service in the country, as viewers tuned in to watch the final.

What type of TV viewer are you?

The research was released to coincide with the launch of Virgin Media’s latest advertising campaign which celebrates the nation’s viewing habits with animal archetypes to represent each type of TV fan. Stars of the campaign include Ed the Sofa Bear, who loves settling down on the sofa for a movie marathon, and Ally the Night Owl, who can never resist watching ‘just one more episode’ of her favourite Box Set.

To find out which archetype you are, take Virgin Media’s ‘Which animal are you?’ quiz here and to watch the TV ad featuring Ed the Sofa Bear, click here.

Scott Kewley, Director of Digital Entertainment at Virgin Media, said: “The way we watch TV is changing dramatically. Since we launched Virgin Media TiVo, people have embraced having more control over how and what they watch than ever before. Our customers love discovering shows, entire Box Sets and searching the immense range of films we offer. Whether they’re a Sofa Bear, a Night Owl or some other telly type, Virgin Media is the perfect habitat for all their TV needs.”

For the full range of TV services available from Virgin Media, visit www.virginmedia.com.

Notes to editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from OnePoll. Total sample size was 2,000. Fieldwork was undertaken in September 2014. The survey was carried out online.

About Virgin Media

Virgin Media offers four multi award-winning services across the UK and Ireland: broadband, TV, mobile phone and landline.

The company’s dedicated, ultrafast network delivers the fastest widely available broadband speeds to homes and businesses. And we’re expanding this through our £3bn Project Lightning programme, which will reach 17 million premises.

Our interactive TV service brings live programmes, thousands of hours of on-demand programming and the best apps and games in a set-top box, as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones.

We launched the world’s first virtual mobile network, offering fantastic value and services to customers. We are also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK and Ireland.

Through Virgin Media Business we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest widely available broadband speeds and tailor-made services.

Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company. Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global serve 27 million customers across 14 countries.