Unmissable TV moments like Eurovision, Love Island and the Women's World Cup unite 18-24 year-olds

Unmissable live TV events are the most watched linear TV programmes by 18-24 year-olds throughout the UK and may hold the key to building lasting friendships, latest figures released by TV Licensing reveal.

Reality TV, award and talent shows, live sport and music, made up more than half of the top 30 most-watched TV programmes for the age group, between January 1 and August 18, 2019.

Flamboyant music-fan favourite The Eurovision Song Contest – which was shown live on BBC One – came second, drawing a young audience of 0.48 million, behind ITV2’s Love Island. Meanwhile, BBC One’s live coverage of the nail-biting Women's World Cup semi-final match between England and USA was the most-watched sporting event, as it was watched by 0.42 million young viewers.

Despite the exploding popularity of TV streaming and catch up services, the data suggests that bonding over live national events, which are typically only available on linear TV channels, is still a priority for 18-24 year-olds.

Chartered Clinical Psychologist, Dr Siobhan McCarthy, explained:

Watching television shows together is a shared experience that can build a sense of community and connection, creating a form of social currency which can last in the days that follow too. This is especially important for students who may be away from their home environment for the very first time.
Certain television experiences create ‘events’ that give people reasons to get together, to feel close and connected to others. Sharing views together on popular television shows can also become the building blocks that make students feel comfortable to share more personal opinions and form strong friendships as a result.

As students across the country head to university this autumn, TV Licensing is encouraging all young people to make sure they know when a licence is needed, so they can bond over the live TV events they love without risking a fine.

The law still applies to students living away from home in halls or shared accommodation, regardless of the device they use, and a TV licence is required to watch programmes as they are being shown on TV live or when watching on BBC iPlayer.

Paul Cooper, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:

We know viewing habits are changing and this age group in particular are increasingly streaming, downloading, recording, using catch-up services and watching TV on mobile devices. However, these figures show that they still love the shared experience of live national events, which also generate debate and discussion on social media and amongst friends.
There’s exciting new content hitting our screens in the autumn and we don’t want students to miss out, nor do we want them to risk prosecution and a fine, so whether they are living in halls or a house-share, students can visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk/uni so they know the facts.

New shows coming to BBC and BBC iPlayer over the next few months include the hotly-anticipated RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, starting on BBC Three in October, and Stormzy fans have a treat lined-up on BBC One as he guest stars in an episode of the six-part Malorie Blackman drama Noughts + Crosses, a gripping story of first love in a dangerous, alternate world.

The law on TV Licensing

The law states that you need to be covered by a TV licence to watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV, or live on an online TV service (e.g. YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.). A licence is also needed to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer. This applies to any device, whether it is a TV set, laptop, tablet, mobile phone or games console.

How to get a TV licence

Buying a TV licence online is quick and easy and with many students choosing to stay in with friends rather than going out, it represents great value for money. If students living in a shared house or flat have a joint tenancy agreement, then one TV Licence may cover the whole house. Go to tvlicensing.co.uk for more.

30 most-watched TV programmes by 18-24 year-olds:

80 most used names for TV remote by city and region
Rank
Programme
Channel
Episodes
18-24s*
1
Love Island
ITV2
49
732
2
The Eurovision Song Contest
BBC 1
1
484
3
Game of Thrones
Sky Atlantic
6
474
4
Love Island: The Reunion
ITV2
1
471
5
Britain's Got Talent
ITV1
14
450
6
Women's World Cup: Eng v USA
BBC 1
1
423
7
The Inbetweeners: Fwends Reunited
CH4
1
408
8
Line of Duty
BBC 1
6
391
9
The National Television Awards 2019
ITV1
1
369
10
The Brit Awards
ITV1
1
360
11
Doctor Who
BBC 1
1
342
12
Luther
BBC 1
4
321
13
Euro Qualifier: Montenegro v Eng
ITV1
1
316
14
Mrs Brown's Boys NY Special
BBC 1
1
295
15
The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C
CH4
5
282
16
Manhunt
ITV1
3
276
17
Fred & Rose West: The Real Story with
Trevor McDonald
ITV1
1
276
18
Britain's Got Talent Results
ITV1
5
276
19
Women's World Cup: Eng v Nor
BBC1
1
271
20
Cleaning Up
ITV1
6
267
21
Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson & Me
CH4
2
266
22
The Bay
ITV1
6
264
23
MOTD Live: Wolves v Liverpool
BBC1
1
259
24
Dancing on Ice
ITV1
10
256
25
Wimbledon: Men's Final
BBC1
1
244
26
Love Island: Aftersun
ITV2
7
243
27
Six Nations Rugby: Wales v England
BBC1
1
242
28
Euro Qualifier: Eng v Czech Republic
ITV1
1
236
29
SAS: Who Dares Wins
CH4
6
236
30
Cheat
ITV1
4
232

*(Average across the series where more than one episode) 000s

  • Source: BARB, 1 January 2019 – 18 August 2019 for the most watched programmes by 18-24 year-olds.
  • Consolidated viewing figures – live and catch-up viewing up to seven days. Includes +1 channels, first run episodes only.
  • Channels include: BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, ITV2, ITVBe, Ch4, Ch5, Sky Atlantic and E4.

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