Ofcom: UK is at digital TV cutting edge

And doing well when it comes to online shopping sprees, too
Darren Allan

December 13, 2012
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The latest major piece of research has emerged from Ofcom, and it shows that when it comes to DVRs, smart TVs and catch-up services, the UK is top of the world league table.

Ofcom’s seventh International Communications Market Report looked at TV, broadband and mobiles across some 17 major nations.

UK consumers were found to be the most likely in the world to access TV content over the Internet, with 23 per cent doing so every week. This is driven by the popularity of catch-up services such as the Beeb’s iPlayer.

The USA was in second place behind the UK, but quite some way behind on a figure of 17 per cent. Spain was third on 16 per cent.

The UK is also the leading country when it comes to the ownership of digital video recorders, and we have one of the highest proportions of HDTV sets in the home – with 41 per cent.

That’s ahead of Japan on 31 per cent, but behind America on 49 per cent. 15 per cent of UK consumers said they owned a smart TV – which is equal to the percentage in France, and well ahead of the US, which was on 10 per cent.

The average UK viewer now watches 4 hours of television per day – only the USA watches much more than us, at a figure of almost 5 hours (Italy also watches 10 minutes more per day).

Moving on to mobile phones, Ofcom also found that the UK had one of the highest levels of smartphone ownership at 58 per cent. 19 per cent of Brits now have a tablet.

More folks are surfing on their mobile devices, too, with UK consumers using an average of 424MB of data, going by December 2011 figures. That was the highest in the world, ahead of Japan on 392MB, and well ahead of the US on 319MB.

One sixth of all web traffic in the UK was conducted via a mobile, tablet or other connected device – a figure higher than any other European country.

And the UK led in another area: Internet shopping. UK shoppers have actually broken the £1,000 per year spending barrier when it comes to buying goods online in 2011, hitting a figure of £1,083. That’s up 14 per cent on 2010.

Australia was second place in this category, but way behind us on £842.

Ofcom’s cost analysis also showed the UK is the cheapest when it comes to the pricing of bundled communications services (phone, broadband, TV and mobile all-in-one deals). However, other countries are narrowing the gap here, and bringing prices down faster, particularly when it comes to mobile subscriptions.

All in all, though, it’s a good showing for the UK. James Thickett, Ofcom’s Director of Research, commented: “Our research shows that UK consumers continue to benefit from one of the most advanced markets for communications products and services.”

“We have always been a nation of TV lovers, and our research shows that UK consumers are world leaders in using the latest TV technology. By catching up on programmes online or using smart TVs, the UK public is finding new ways to enhance their viewing experience.”


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