- October 21, 2021

Comscore Connected TV: Viewing Behaviour in the UK


Alex Gevers
Alex Gevers
Insights Director

In the first instalment of Comscore Connected TV, we look at OTT viewing behaviour on TV screens in the UK and compare it with linear viewing behaviour. In most households, TV viewing follows a weekly pattern, with greater activity occurring during weekends. For that reason, the statistics included in this article cover a four-week period: from Monday, August 30rd up to and including Sunday, September 26th. Moreover, our analysis is restricted to households with smart TVs – i.e. television sets with internet capabilities, which can access both traditional (linear) TV and stream OTT content.

Over the four-week period, we observed that almost all (or 96%) of the connected TV sets accessed linear TV (see table below). Put simply, linear TV programmes are still the main destination for practically all TV sets. At the same time, OTT is now firmly entrenched: over half (or 56%) are used to access OTT content. In terms of viewing time, OTT represents 25% of the total, while linear TV represents 75%. 

Type of content % of all devices that consumed a given type of content % of total TV viewing hours
Linear TV 96% 75%
OTT 56% 25%

Source: Based on UK smart TV data feeds processed by Comscore that cover major content providers. Aug 30-Sept 26, 2021.

Linear data includes both real-time and time-shifted viewing. 

More granular analysis shows that, over the four-week period, just over half (or 52%) of all connected TV devices accessed both linear and OTT content. Only a tiny minority (or 4%) accessed exclusively OTT content, while 44% accessed linear TV exclusively. 

Crucially, it is those who watch both linear and OTT content who spend the most time behind the TV screen: during the four-week timeframe they consumed, on average, over 3 hours and 30 minutes of TV per device and per day. For people who watched OTT or linear TV exclusively, daily viewing time is less than half that amount (1 hour and 18 minutes and 1 hour and 36 minutes per day, respectively). 

Looking further into the segment of consumers who watch both linear and OTT content, two thirds of the viewing time was attributed to linear TV, and one third attributed to OTT content. 

Devices that watched... % of all devices % of total TV viewing hours Hours per device per day
OTT content only 4% 2% 1.3
Both linear and OTT content 52% 71% 3.5
of which OTT captures…   33% 1.1
of which linear captures…   67% 2.3
Linear TV only 44% 27% 1.6

Source: Based on UK Smart TV data feeds processed by Comscore that cover major content providers. Aug 30-Sept 26, 2021.

Linear data includes both real-time and time-shifted viewing. 

Taken together, the data indicates that in most households linear TV is still where most of the viewing happens, while OTT serves as an add-on, as opposed to a substitute. Yet broadcasters who rely on traditional business models will want to track the share of ‘OTT-only’ users as well as the proportion of viewing time that OTT represents for those who access both linear and OTT.

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