Traditional TV sees viewer numbers plummet to record lows as Ofcom blames rise in online streaming platforms

Streaming services like Netflix are stealing the nation's attention, but public broadcasters continue to dominate our screens
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The end of traditional television could be nigh as Ofcom reveals the number of broadcast viewers has seen its sharpest fall since records first began.

That is according to the media watchdog's report for 2023 which says the nation's attention is being stolen away by the rise of online streaming platforms like Netflix. Yet public broadcasters continue to dominate people's screens.

Ofcom say the proportion of people watching broadcast TV each week has declined from 83% in 2021 to 79% in 2022. While the average time spent watching broadcast television per person per day has also fallen from two hours and 59 minutes in 2021 to two hours and 38 minutes the year later.

Streaming services like Netflix are whisking away the nation's attention, but public broadcasters continue to dominate the 2023 figures - AdobeStreaming services like Netflix are whisking away the nation's attention, but public broadcasters continue to dominate the 2023 figures - Adobe
Streaming services like Netflix are whisking away the nation's attention, but public broadcasters continue to dominate the 2023 figures - Adobe

The research shows that despite the decline, BBC One and ITV 1 are still the top two destinations for viewers and Netflix comes a close third. People continue to opt for for public service broadcasters as they "broadcast events that bring the nation together for a shared viewing experience” such as the FIFA World Cup, the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, and Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee, which fill the top three spots for last year's most watched programmes.

Another notable shift in the broadcast television landscape is a decline in the number of shows attracting "mass audiences". Ofcom's Media Nations 2023 report confirms the number of programmes with over four million viewers has halved over the last eight years.

Figures show the end of the British soaps era could be just around the corner too, with fewer people tuning into the likes of EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Ofcom also says viewers are shying away from early and late news bulletins.

Just 48 programmes averaged more than four million viewers on streaming platforms in 2022, with Netflix accounting for "the vast majority". Research also suggests there is a significant decline in average broadcast TV viewing among the “core” older audiences aged 65 and over, as they become more likely to opt for streaming service alternatives.

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