Report: Role of TV set changing for UK kids

According to Ofcom, traditional TV content is becoming less important for five- to 15-year-olds as the popularity of YouTube, OTT services and online gaming grows.
January 29, 2019

Ofcom’s annual report on children’s media usage in the UK has revealed that time spent watching television content on a TV set (whether broadcast or on demand) in a typical week has dropped by about one hour for three- to four-year-olds, eight- to 11-year-olds and 12-to 15-year-olds, despite TV sets being used by nearly all children.

According to the UK media regulator’s Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes 2018 report, daily TV time has decreased year-on-year by nearly eight minutes to approximately one hour and 52 minutes per day, while children’s time spent online has remained steady over 2017 results at an average of two hours and 11 minutes per day.

Ofcom based its latest research on data from 1,430 interviews with parents of kids ages five to 15, and children ages eight to 15, as well as 630 interviews with parents of children ages three to four.

In 2018, TV sets were used by 94% of three- to four-year-olds and 97% of five- to 15-year-olds, and tablets also dominated device usage—58% with kids ages three to four ,and 76% with five to 15s. However, smart TVs are the only media devices that five-to-15s are now using more than in 2017, with six in 10 using one these days.

As for YouTube, it’s increasingly the viewing platform of choice, particularly among eight-to-11s, 49% of whom prefer to watch YouTube content rather than TV programs on a TV set, up 9% since 2017. Looking at what kids are watching on the AVOD platform, 52% of 12- to 15-year-olds are watching vloggers, up from 40% a year ago. And how-to vids, unboxing vids and game tutorials (Dan TDM for Fortnite and Minecraft is especially popular) have all grown in popularity year-over-year.

Considering the popularity of streaming, Ofcom asked about children’s viewing of OTT TV services for the first time. It found that one-third of three-to-fours (32%) and half of all five-to-15s (49%) say they use OTT television services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV.

Online gaming has also contributed to the shift away from TV viewing.  Children ages 12 to 15 who play games say they spend an extra hour and a half gaming per week compared to 2017.

The full Ofcom report can be found here.

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at



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