Ofcom Communications Market Report 2010

Ofcom recently released its Communications Market Report 2010.

With 379 pages, full of data and analysis about media consumption habits in the UK, it offers plenty of insights into the way people use communication technologies today. In this post, and another to follow on social media, I’ve picked out a few interesting bits worth thinking about.

UK consumers are spending almost half of their waking hours watching TV, using their smartphones and other communications devices.

In total people spent 8 hours and 48 minutes a day using various media content and communications services if counted separately, however simultaneous consumption allows them to fit all this into just seven hours and 5 minutes a day!

Proportion of all media activity throughout the day

Figure 1.14 shows the various media and communications activities undertaken each hour of the day. Radio was most popular in the morning but declined by the evening when TV accounted for over half (52%) of all media activities.

Text communications and voice communications both account for a fair proportion of media activity throughout the day, only declining during the evening’s peak television time.

Print media made up an average of 6% of all media activity between 10:00 and 22:00, before peaking at 12% of all media activity at 23:00.

Proportion of all media use through each device, by age group

Over half the time people spend on media and communications activity makes use of a TV or radio set.

However, the research confirms that use is influenced by access and the disproportionately high access young people have to a range of digital communications devices and technologies has a bearing on the way they use a wide range of communications services.

For example, computer, mobile phone and hand-held devices all had higher levels of use among younger age groups. Almost three-fifths (58%) of all 16-24 year old media engagement was through one of these devices, compared to 18% for people aged over 55. By contrast, use of the more established devices and media, such as TV sets, radio sets, and print, generally increased with age.

Proportion of computer use, by activity

Two-fifths of people’s time on a computer is spent communicating with other people (though the pattern of use differs by age);

  • 37% of activity done on a computer by over-55s is communication-based. Most of this is emailing, which makes up 28% of all computer activity among this age group. An additional 8% of their computer activity is social networking, and 1% is instant messaging.
  • For 16-24s, over half their computer time is spent communicating with other people. They are more likely to use social networking (23% of all computer activity) and instant messaging (14%). Emailing is a smaller activity among this age group, making up 14% of their computer activity. Audio and video activities on the computer is also highest among this group.

Household PC and internet take-up, 2005-2010

Internet take-up is edging towards three-quarters of UK households

Almost all homes with computers are now connected to the internet. PC ownership is likely to be the biggest constraint on increases in household internet take-up in the immediate future.

The type of internet connection that a consumer has determines the type of content they can consume, with many forms of content requiring a broadband connection. Differences between fixed and mobile broadband connections, particularly with regard to bandwidth-intensive activities like video streaming, are also relevant, since mobile broadband connections are more susceptible to capacity constraints.

Consumers are accessing the internet across more and more devices.

Alongside the growth in internet connections, the range of internet-connected devices has grown rapidly in recent years. This means that many consumers now have a number of different ways to access web-based content. Apart from PCs and laptops, examples include:

  • Mobile phones – such as smartphones (like the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Symbian devices), or ‘feature phones’ which offer a more limited internet browsing experience.
  • Games consoles – advanced games consoles such as the Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii allow users to browse the internet and consume web-delivered video content as well as playing games online.
  • Portable media players – devices such as the Apple iPod Touch and Archos 5 Internet Tablet have been joined by newer devices such as the Apple iPad, Dell Streak and various e-reader devices which all enable users to access internet content;
  • Other devices – such as internet TVs (for example, certain Sony Bravia and Samsung 6 Series models) and internet radios that combine online content with broadcast content.

Ofcom media literacy research shows that accessing websites through a computer or laptop is widespread, with 67% of adults claiming that they do this; compared to 28% of adults who claim to use a mobile phone to access websites, 10% who claim to use a games console, and 6% a portable media device.

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