Watching live TV goes social – will you be covered?

New report shows more than a quarter of us expect to regularly watch TV on Facebook and Twitter in ten years’ time.

A new report from TV Licensing shows a rising trend in people watching live TV via social media, as audiences predict a sharp increase in how many of them will be viewing live TV on sites like Facebook and Twitter by 2027.

At present, around eight per cent of UK adults say they have watched live TV on a social media platform, with the number predicted to rise to 27 per cent over the next decade. A fifth see themselves watching more live TV on short-form social apps, such as Snapchat and Instagram, while 35 per cent say they expect to watch TV shows integrated with Virtual Reality in the near future.

Research conducted for TeleScope 2017, which looks at the UK's TV viewing habits, suggests watching TV via social media will play an important role in the future of television, although the majority of viewing time at the moment remains live, with 91% of us watching live TV at least once a week in 2016.

In the two-week period leading up to the General Election, more than 3,000 people tweeted about watching the BBC’s live election broadcasts on Twitter. Earlier this year, Amazon announced live channel offerings and Facebook signalled the introduction of a Watch tab, enabling users to watch live TV content while connecting with other viewers, a sign that the way we’re consuming TV is changing.

A TV licence is required to watch live TV on any platform including social media sites.

Pipa Doubtfire, Head of Revenue Management, BBC TV Licensing, said:

In 2017, there’s been a surge in broadcasters sharing live content with a wider audience on social media, reaching new audiences across the globe. However live viewing still remains a key part of the way we watch TV, whether that be on a TV set, smartphone, or via a website or social media platform. In fact, ninety-one per cent of TV viewers watched live TV in a typical week in 2016, broadly the same as a decade ago.

Regardless of how you watch, we know most people need a TV Licence. Well under two per cent of people never watch or record live TV, or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, so most people will still need to be covered by a TV Licence, even in ten years’ time.

A licence is needed to watch BBC programmes on demand – including catch up TV - on iPlayer, as well as live TV content, on any platform or device. You also need to be covered if you record your favourite program to watch back at a later time.

A third (32 per cent) of those surveyed also say they expect to watch more TV content which has been automatically curated by mining their personal data, and 23 per cent expect broadcasters to offer viewers the option to choose their own programme storylines or endings by 2027.

John Ellis, Professor of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London, said:

Live TV still matters, and that’s why social media is copying linear TV, with Twitter streaming live interviews from Wimbledon and the General Election debates and results this year. Twitter’s live NFL stream was watched by more than two million people and YouTube TV was launched in the US, offering live shows and a TV programme guide. Live TV on any platform gives a sense of being connected to events along with millions of others. That’s why it stays popular when viewers have more choice than ever before - it’s still the most popular type of way the UK watches TV.

Annie Hall, a 41-year-old corporate fundraiser from North London is one of the many viewers already watching in this way:

I watched the Election Debates on Twitter, and it was interesting to see the real-time tweets from commentators and other Twitter users, while following the debates. I already watch TV via a number of platforms including Facebook Live and I expect to see more programmes shown on social media in the future.

TeleScope 2017 also reveals the average adult weekly TV diet. Around 91 per cent of the population watched TV at least once a week in 2016. The average person spent 3 hours 32 minutes a day watching broadcast TV last year and 80 per cent of everything we view is live, remaining the most popular way to watch TV.

Recorded viewing represents 12 per cent of viewing time, which is more than the time we spend watching on-demand (8 per cent). The hours spent consuming on demand content has doubled over the past four years.


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