Time Spent on Digital Media in the UK Surpassed Time on Traditional Media

In 2019, for the first time, UK adults spent more time with digital media than with traditional media, according to eMarketer. By the end of 2019, UK adults have spent a daily average of 5 hours, 16 minutes (5:16) with digital media. This represents 52.2% of media consumption. In 2018, the average time spent with digital and time spent with traditional media were tied at 5:03.

“We expect the gap to widen in the coming years, as content consumption continues to shift further onto digital platforms,” eMarketer UK senior analyst Bill Fisher said. “This has ramifications for media companies, of course, but for marketers, too. They will need to weigh their ad budgets carefully. Traditional media will remain hugely important, but it will mean more complex strategies for reaching customers.”

Growth in time spent with digital media has slowed and is set to plateau in the coming years. The growth that remains will be fueled by increases in time spent with smartphones and other devices including connected TVs. Adults in the UK used their smartphones (excluding voice calls) for 2:16 per day, on average in 2019. Smartphones will continue to gain an increasing share of time spent with total media, surpassing 25% by 2021.

Video consumption is also driving growth of overall digital media time. Last year, UK adults spent 1:25 per day watching digital video, up 10.4% over 2018. Mobile remained in the lead for digital video consumption among adults, at 36 minutes, up 7.2% over 2018. This is closely followed by “other connected devices” (31 minutes), which include smart TVs and gaming consoles. These devices will see a growth of 20.7% in 2019.

In the UK, time spent with traditional media among adults decreased by 4.2% to 4:50. This number will continue to decline, dropping to 4:33 by 2021. A key reason for total traditional time dropping is TV time, which has been steadily declining. It will fall 5.9% this year as consumers spend more time with digital video. In 2019, consumers spent 25.8% of their total media consumption on traditional TV. Other major traditional media also declined last year: newspapers (down 3.7%), magazines (down 4.5%) and radio (down 1.8%).

“The way people are watching video content is changing faster than ever before,” eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Cindy Liu said. “Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have become incredibly popular because of their vast libraries of original content, including some UK-produced titles. Coupled with the fact that these platforms can be watched on virtually any connected device, it’s not surprising that time spent watching digital video will continue to chip away at traditional TV time.”

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