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Are younger viewers really ditching live TV in favour of Netflix?

Ofcom figures show that younger viewers ages 16-24 are increasingly turning to on-demand services, with live TV only taking up 50 per cent of total viewing time. 

Compared to other ages groups Ofcom surveyed for its Public Service Broadcasting in the Internet Age report, 16-24 year olds are more likely to turn to Vice News for information and subscribe to an on-demand service than older and younger demographics. 

But far from signalling the end of live TV as we know it, most folks still prefer live and recorded TV over online entertainment. 

Ofcom’s report also cites research from GfK which shows that 10 per cent of content watched on Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video. 

So while there’s certainly a change in how people like to get their content these days, it’s a little too soon to start measuring the coffin for public service broadcasting, if audience reception is anything to go by. 

Are younger viewers really ditching live TV in favour of Netflix?

The growth of YouTube and social networks is having a more perceptible impact on the consumption of news, with viewing of TV news has fallen by 29 per cent among people aged 16-34.

Ofcom notes that this represents the biggest challenge for public service broadcasters, but only fleetingly mentions that the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 all maintain Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for their channels and radio stations. 

TV-centric social Beamly didn’t get a mention in the report either, despite it being aimed squarely at the Millennial market and racking up over 10 million active monthly users.  

Another challenge to public service broadcasting, particularly the BBC, comes down to the licence fee settlement. Frozen for the last six years, the BBC’s charter is up for renewal this year. 

Among the many proposals aimed at the licence fee include replacing it with a mandatory tax, ensuring that everyone pays. 

Currently, you’re free to legally avoid paying for a licence so long as you only watch non-live, catch-up and on-demand content. You are free to access BBC catch-up content on iPlayer without having to pay for a licence – switching to a broadcasting levy could change that. 


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