Surprising fact: We’re watching more TV than we did a decade ago

This week we learned that far from becoming less popular in the competition from smartphones, tablet and video on-demand, television watching is actually more popular in households than it was 10 years ago.

And we’re talking the type of TV watching where the whole family joins in. This news, off the back of an Ofcom report, didn’t surprise me. Last February I watched a presentation by Nigel Walley of Decipher media who demonstrated very clearly that Saturday night family TV viewing is alive and well, thank you very much.

Broadcasters face competition from online experiences like social media, YouTube, games and a bewildering array of interest-related apps. Add to that the fact that the younger generation is used to watching what they want when they want it via catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and More 4, and you’d have thought that broadcast TV was in a phase akin to the last years of silent films.

But confound them, audiences can always surprise you. First of all, smartphones and tablets have helped family viewing by their portability – no longer are teens holed-up in their own rooms watching their small TV sets. No, they’re on the sofa with the rest of the family, even if they are texting, tweeting or playing Minecraft.

Two-screening has taken hold, and that’s not just with companion applications such as the Antiques Roadshow app that lets you guess valuations at home or Britain’s Got Talent’s app. Women in particular have proved adept at the multi-tasking that multiple screens offer (surprised?) so you can do your banking in the ad breaks, check your eBay purchases or catch up with friends on Facebook.

Meanwhile, our TVs themselves are getting connected, but it’s hoped that this will make them smarter at what they do best – being TVs – rather than trying to be too smart by half and turn into smartphones or PCs. We’ve already got those.

So, at the moment the approach of Connected TV is to give you more of what you’ve got – so more live coverage of big events or coverage of specialist events that might currently only be found online. But it’s selected coverage we can all watch more or less together and talk about over the water cooler at work.

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