UK audiences are enjoying unprecedented choice and innovation, says a five year-review into public broadcasting by the regulator Ofcom.
Small Screen: Big Debate – a five-year review of Public Service Broadcasting (2014-18) reports while audiences have generally positive views of the PSB channels, viewing, especially among younger people, continues to decline.
Worryingly for the under pressure BBC, audiences aged 16-34 years old are more likely to watch a BBC programme on Netflix than the BBC iPlayer.
To date online and on-demand services including the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All4 have not been able to compensate for the loss of live broadcast viewing. During the five years covered by the report viewer requests for programmes from these services increased by 65% to 6.3 billion but the strongest drivers for online viewing are subscription video on demand platforms and YouTube
The report finds that the PSB channels have generally fulfilled the PSB remit and play an important role in supporting the UK’s creative economy. However, it says other providers such as Sky and Netflix are “offering both a large volume and wide range of high-quality content to UK audiences”.
But the differences in content produced between the well-established PSBs and the new entrants is stark. The PSB channels collectively made approximately 32,200 hours of first-run UK content available in 2018, compared to just over 210 hours of UK-produced content available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and approximately 22,900 hours on commercial broadcast channels run by Sky and UKTV.