Ofcom (UK) Communications Trends & Use Findings

Content is ´economic´king
All you comms Pro´s out there may be interested in looking at the latest Ofcom technology use report looking at trends and developments in the UK’s communications market. As the report states “statistics suggest that in terms of Gross Value Added, telecoms, broadcasting and the content-related components of the creative industries contribute over three times as much as the UK’s electricity, gas and water supply industries combined.” See, we media types do contribute something to society after all! And it tells us heaps about the popularity of and growth in the channels that we use to feed messages and receive feedback from our stakeholders and other audiences.
UK – a nation of social networkers
Analysis of time spent online reveals that Britain is a nation of shoppers and social networkers. More time was spent on eBay than on any other web site, and social networking sites Bebo, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube are all in the top ten sites by time spent. Women aged 25-34 spend over 20% more time online than their male counterparts. ‘Silver surfers’ also account for an increasing amount of internet use with nearly 30% of total time spent on the internet accounted for by over-50s (although, as over-50s account for 41% of the UK population, their internet usage remains significantly lower than average).
Seven hrs every day on comms and web usage
Ofcom estimates that, on average, each person now spends more than seven hours cumulatively every day watching, listening, making phone calls and web-browsing. Driving this is the widening availability of increasingly sophisticated telecoms services and a greater amount of ‘converged’ equipment, capable of receiving services from more than one operator and over multiple platforms.
Death knell for old TV?
Ofcom also commissioned new research which looks at the impact on traditional media of two key digital technologies: the mobile phone and the digital video recorder (DVR). Almost 78% of DVR owners claiming that they regularly fast forward through advertisements while watching recorded programmes, and growing substitution of the new generation of high specification mobile handsets for devices such as cameras, portable music players and games consoles. More than 75% of 11 year olds claim that they own each of: TV sets, games consoles and mobile phones. If you aint got heaps of time, here are some toplines I picked out for you…
Increasingly sophisticated devices are beginning to influence consumer behaviour. Fifteen percent of individuals now have a digital video recorder (DVR) and up to 78% of adults who own them say they always, or almost always, fast-forward through the adverts when watching recorded programmes.
Access to communications devices is widespread among children, with more than three quarters of 11 year olds claiming ownership of a TV set, a games console and a mobile phone.
Bundled communications services are increasingly popular with consumers, and each person now consumes more than seven hours of media and communications services cumulatively per day.
The alarm is the mobile handset feature which has the highest substitutional impact on stand-alone devices, followed by the camera. A significant minority of people also say their mobile is substituting for their stand-alone portable music player or games console.

Key points: television
Digital television penetration broke through the 80% barrier in Q1 2007, taking the total number of homes with multichannel television to 20.4 million (80.5% of the total).
There are now more Freeview devices connected to the main television set in the home than pay satellite set top boxes. By Q1 2007, 8.4 million homes had Freeview, up 33.3% on the year, while 8.0 million households took pay satellite, up 8.3%. The five main networks have been losing audience share but have been able to offset this to some extent by the strong performance of their spin-off channels; Film4, More4, E4, ITV3 and ITV4 were among the top ten gainers in share in the year to December 2006.
Nearly 450,000 households now subscribe to high-definition television services (HDTV) (1.7% of total TV homes). Forty-three per cent of HDTV subscribers claim to watch more television overall since taking the service but 77% say that they watch fewer hours of non-HD channels.

Key points: radioRadio reach has been stable over the last five years at around 90%. However, total listening hours fell by 1.4% in the year to Q1 2007, and are down 4.0% on five years ago. Listening hours have fallen furthest among 25-34 year olds, down by 17.3% over five years, and among children, down 8.7%. However, the over-55’s are now listening to more radio, with hours up by 5.5%.
DAB digital radio will develop further in 2008, with the launch of the second national commercial DAB multiplex. Some 58% of listeners say they have accessed radio through one of the digital platforms (up seven percentage points on last year); 41% have listened via DTV, 24% over the internet, and 8% via mobile phone. Twenty seven per cent of UK adults now own an MP3 player, with 5% using them to listen to radio podcasts.

Key points: telecoms
Average household spend on telecoms services fell by nearly a pound in 2006 to £64.73 per month. For the first time, average mobile spend fell (by 70p to £31.72) as falling prices more than compensated for an increase in the total number of connections and in the average number of voice calls and text messages per subscriber. More than half of UK households had broadband by March 2007. The average (blended) headline speed in June 2007 was 4.6Mbit/s, although actual speeds experienced are often considerably lower, varying according to the quality and length of line from premises to exchange and the number of simultaneous users.
Households with a mobile connection (93%) exceeded households with a fixed connection (90%) for the first time in 2006. At the end of 2006 there were nearly 70 million active mobile phone subscriptions in the UK, with further growth being driven by multiple handset or SIM ownership. Of these, 35% were contract connections (1% higher than a year previously).
3G moved into the mainstream in 2006 with connections growing by 70% to reach 7.8 million.

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