Adults' media use and attitudes: latest Ofcom research

posted on 25 April, 2018   (public)

While online services are becoming more prevalent, awareness of their funding and regulation remains low

On 24 April 2018, Ofcom, the British communications regulator, has published two research reports related to how people use, understand and relate to different media in the UK.

The first report, Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes, provides detailed insight into media use, attitudes and understanding among UK adults aged 16 and over. It covers TV, radio, mobile, and the internet.

Key findings include:

  • Catch-up, on-demand, streaming services and YouTube are becoming more important, at the expense of traditional linear TV. More than half (55%) of adults say they watch on-demand and streaming content. As a result, participants describe themselves adopting a mix-and-match approach to platforms and viewing devices; for example, watching more TV than previously on smartphones and tablets, as well as watching more YouTube and Netflix on their TV sets.
  • Nearly all adults aged 16-54 go online (98% for 16-24s, 97% for 25-34s, 97% for 35-44s, 96% for 45-54s). They spend an average of one day a week online, which has doubled in a decade from around 12 hours in 2007.
  • People are spending more time online while on the move, up from 2.1 hours a week in 2016, to 2.5 hours in 2017; seven in ten people now use a smartphone to go online (70% in 2017 vs. 66% in 2016), and smartphones continue to be more popular for accessing the internet than a computer.
  • Facebook has declined in popularity since 2016. The number of social media users who consider it their main social media profile has fallen from eight in ten (80%) to seven in ten (70%), while the number who consider Whatsapp and Snapchat their main social media profiles has increased from 7% to 16%, and 2% to 4% respectively.

The research also found a divide between the way adults from households in the less privileged socio-economic categories use and understand the internet, compared to those from more advantaged backgrounds. In general, the majority of people (80%) are aware that the licence fee is the main source of funding for BBC television programmes, while awareness of funding of online services and websites is lower, e.g. less than half (45%) of adults are aware of the main source of funding for YouTube. Lastly, awareness of regulation on TV channels and online services is mixed - three in ten think that content on YouTube is regulated.

Secondly, Ofcom has also published its Media Lives study, a yearly qualitative report which has followed the same 19 individuals over time to provide an in-depth understanding of the role media and communications plays in their lives and how this has changed over time.

Source: Ofcom Website