Binge viewers and cord "thickeners": say hello to Britain’s media consumer

Binge viewers and cord "thickeners": say hello to Britain’s media consumer

Today's media consumer is a very different breed to the one we were talking about just years ago. New research from consultancy firm Deloitte suggests the UK population has fast become a tribe of "mass-geeks," hooked on media, and responsible for changing the face of the TV industry. So what does the annual survey of 2,000 UK citizens tell us about media habits today?

If we were under any illusions about the UK's love affair with media, the report firmly sets the record straight. Highlighting the proliferation of connected devices (a huge 60 percent of homes now house at least one tablet), the study underscores the impact this is having on our viewing patterns. It estimates that the average UK household spends some £900 on media in a given year, with newspapers still claiming a marginal majority of the total figures at 52 percent.

The findings look positive for physical media, with digital subscription alternatives representing just 6 percent of media spend by value – even if this figure is increasing yearly. For now, it seems, UK consumers are continuing to enjoying a blend (and widening selection) of traditional and new media content – something we've recently discussed here on Bright Ideas.

We're also fast becoming a nation of "binge-viewers," according to the research, with almost a quarter of those surveyed (24 percent) claiming to prefer watching several episodes of their favourite show in succession, rather than wait for the weekly broadcast. It's a trend that younger generations, in particular, are driving. "Bingeing" is highest among 25-35 year-olds with more than a third (35 percent) admitting to the habit.

While the onset of personalised, "Me TV" experiences might suggest a move away from the traditionally shared experience of watching TV, it seems our evolving TV habits still revolve around television as a collaborative, communal experience to be shared. Binge-viewing, for example, is actually higher in shared households, with 30 percent of those in shared houses saying they binge-view, versus 19 percent of people who live alone.

So what are we watching? Of the 50 channels to which TV households now have access, 72 percent of us are only watching 10 or fewer channels on a regular basis. We're also increasingly turning to the likes of Facebook as a genuine substitute for traditional entertainment sources – something I've previously blogged about here. It will be interesting to see how the social-platform-as-media-curator trend plays out over the coming months.

But perhaps the most interesting takeaway of the report is it's identification of a "fattening cord." Rather than cutting pay-TV subscriptions for the likes of Netflix, British pay-TV viewers are now 50 percent more likely than free-to-air only homes to subscribe to additional TV streaming service. As the report puts it: "far from thinning or cutting the cord, demand for new content suppliers is thickening it."

As TV streaming services evolve, grow their libraries, and offer an influx of new, original programming, it will be fascinating to see whether the cord continues to fatten, and whether pay-TV can continue to hold its own in a rapidly changing media landscape.