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One in seven decide what to watch on TV from social media

YouView study finds Facebook/Twitter influence TV habits but risk ruining shows.

27% would keep away from social media to avoid spoiling favourite TV programmes they are yet to catch up on.

One in eight people claim they now watch more television than in 2013.

One in seven Facebook users always or often use the social media site to discuss the shows they’re watching.

UK households own an average of one extra TV-capable device/gadget compared to 12 months ago.

52% of people prefer homegrown British drama.

Social media has had a huge impact on our TV tastes with around one in seven viewers now getting TV recommendations directly from it [Facebook (12%) and Twitter (6%)].

According to the latest YouView census into national television habits for 2014, one in seven (14%) of Facebook users questioned also said they always or often use the site to talk about the TV programme they are watching. For Twitter the number was slightly higher at 16% or around one in six.

The research, to mark YouView’s second birthday this month, found that among 18-24 year olds this rose to 24% for Twitter users and stood at a fifth (20%) for Facebook.

The YouGov survey was conducted online and questioned more than 2,000 people. It also discovered that nationally 4% of people admitted they talk about TV at least once a day on Facebook (Twitter 2%). These numbers are at least double for those in the 18-24 age range at 9% and 6% respectively.

In that same 18-24 age group, one in 10 said they found their best TV tips by looking on the two social networks with 15% of 25-34s feeling the same.

Across the country, one in seven (14%) told how they always flicked through Facebook at the same time as watching TV. But in Wales, this rose to 27% while in Northern Ireland, it was just 8%.

Nationally, those on Twitter at the same time as watching TV was just 4% although 8% of 18-24s admitted to sending tweets while in front of the box. For 25-34s it was 10%.

In the battle of the sexes, women were far more likely to always or often be on Facebook while watching TV – 41% of women vs 28% of men.

The online YouView research also discovered the different places people watched telly including one in 25 (4%) of TV viewers who admitted to doing so while sitting on the toilet and the same number (4%) while taking a bath.

According to the survey, nearly six in 10 (59%) of UK telly addicts now take evasive action to avoid spoilers about TV they have recorded or wished to stream later on catch-up or on demand. This rose to seven in 10 (68%) for 18-24s.

Nationally 31% rated spoilers as “very annoying” with 55 and overs surprisingly hating them the most (36%). That compared to just a quarter (25%) of 18-24s.

The research also showed the number of different ways that would be used by TV viewers to avoid spoilers including 27% saying they would stay away from social media, 25% who wouldn’t read newspapers, 7% would ensure their phones were switched off, 6% would avoid social gatherings and 6% saying they would ignore emails.

Family and friends appear to offer the most useful TV viewing advice. Around six in 10 of those questioned rated such people as “influential” (including 12% who said “very influential” for both) compared to just 29% who said TV critics were “influential” in their own TV viewing choices.

The use of printed TV guides also experienced a fall compared to the same YouView survey in 2013. It dropped from 30% to 27%. One in 10 are now using TV-related applications on mobile devices (17% for 25-34s) such as the free YouView app for iOS and Android devices.

Remote record technology has also become popular with 10% of those with a TV service providing it taking advantage of this function every day. It allows them to set their set-top box from a smartphone, computer or tablet – and 3% of people admit they used remote record while on the toilet, 4% while in the bath, 13% while on a break at work and 17% while they are worked.

The study also discovered good news for UK TV producers. Despite fierce competition from American imports, British drama was ranked as the respondents’ favourite with 52% of people who preferred homegrown shows compared to 23% who rated dramas highest. Foreign Language dramas accounted for just 3%. Among the 18-24s questioned, US imports were just ahead at 35% vs 33%.

Susie Buckridge, Director of Product, YouView said,

“There has never been a greater choice of TV available to watch and more ways to watch it on, so it’s interesting to see how viewers are clearing a path through the maze of shows being aired.

“Whether taking recommendations from social media or being influenced by family and friends, it appears the personal touch is the key to helping decide what’s worth turning on and what we should just switch off.

“The fact that affordability and programme choice are most important when choosing a TV streaming service also resonates for YouView customers.”

Other highlights from the YouView survey include the following claims:

  • UK homes now own on average one extra TV-capable piece of technology compared to last year such as

tablets, games consoles and computers. It rose from four to five

  • Affordability (52%), TV show choice (31%) and TV show quality (30%) were the top three reasons for choosing a TV streaming service
  • 42% of all the UK adults questioned never buy DVDs/Blu-rays although for 18-24s this was only 34%
  • 80% of all the UK adults questioned never rent DVDs
  • 69% of those questioned thought catch-up access was very or fairly important (77% 18-24s)
  • One in 10 TV viewers watch 5-10 hours of on demand each week with 13% watching 5-10 hours of catch-up
  • A fifth of those asked now own seven or more devices that they are capable of watching TV on (17% in 2013)
  • 14% of people spend approximately between £3 and £10.99 on TV-related downloads per month
    • Only 19% of those asked were aware what the term “dual/second screening” meant
    • There was a rise in HD TV ownership from 37% in 2013 to 51% in 2014
    • Men spend a greater percentage of their TV viewing time per month watching live – 67% men vs 63% women
    • Women spend a greater percentage of their TV viewing time per moth watching on catch-up TV – 24% women vs 20% men

Regional highlights

  • Adults who watch TV in London watch the highest amount of catch-up – an average of 27% of the time
  • The East of England watches the lowest amount of on demand at 9% with the North East the highest at 17%
  • In Wales respondents said they were watching more telly in 2014 vs 2013 at 17% vs 12% nationally
  • 12% of Facebook users in Wales stated they always comment on the site about TV shows they’re watching vs 5% nationally
  • 10% of Twitter users in London stated they always comment on the site about the TV they are watching vs 3% nationally
  • The Welsh are more likely to use social media most for TV recommendations – 15% and 10% for FB and TW respectively. This compares to 12% / 6% nationally
  • 6% of those who watch TV content in the East of England watch TV on the loo and 8% of the Welsh do it in the bath. This compares to 4% both nationally


Notes to Editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. For the 2014 figures the total sample size was 2,462 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd – 26th May 2014.  In 2013 the total sample size was 2,073 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th – 28th May 2013.

Both surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

YouGov gives +/- 2% confidence intervals (margins of error)

NB: The base number for each question varies depending on access/ownership to each of the technologies mentioned. More stats plus regional/gender data from the YouView national TV census is available on request.