UK 16-24s show unique aspects of video consumption

DetailsJoseph O'Halloran | 16 June 2015

As new forms of video evolve and expand, younger people's changing, and markedly different, video lives have been revealed by the UK's commercial TV's trade body Thinkbox.

The Truth about Youth study, carried out by sector research specialist Platypus, shows the new attitudes that younger people, in particular in the key 16-24 sector, have towards their video consumption. The analysis by Thinkbox of total video consumption in the UK – from TV viewing to online video services such as YouTube, DVDs and subscription VOD (SVOD) services like Netflix —shows how this generation of 16-24s' video diet differs from the UK average.

The analysis found that TV viewing of all sorts, encompassing live, playback and the broadcasters' VOD services, dominates the video viewing of all ages. Yet the generation of 16-24s has a more varied video diet, with TV accounting for 65% of their total video viewing compared to the UK average of 81%. Thinkbox attributes part of the reason for this difference to the fact that 16-24s are the biggest fans of watching video on new screens, such as tablets and smartphones. 30% of 16-24s' video viewing is on these devices – double that of the average individual at 15%. Boredom-busting was also a key motivation for watching online video.

In addition, while Netflix and other subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services accounted for 2% of UK video consumption, this rose to 4% for 16-24s. YouTube accounted for 3.5% of overall UK video consumption, but again this doubled for 16-24s.

The study also claimed to have identified three interlinking aspects which have a significant influence on how younger people consume video: Time & Space; Identity; and Social Maintenance.

As regards the first category, 14-24s were found to have more free time than most and so have a broader spectrum of video viewing that stretches from highly immersive viewing to boredom-busting. TV content plays a role across the whole spectrum, as do services like Netflix for some. Online video like YouTube tends to sit further along the spectrum as an easy way to kill some free time. This age group was often constrained in terms of access and control of the main TV screen, with competing demands from parents, siblings or friends in shared accommodation. This explains why 16-24s watch more video on devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Commenting on the research, Thinkbox research and planning director Matt Hill, said: "There has been an immense amount of speculation about how younger audiences are watching TV and newer forms of video. This research shows that newer forms of video have important roles to play in young people's lives and that TV remains by far their favourite medium. Different video fulfils different needs and they co-exist happily."