Britons ‘watch four hours of tv a day

British viewers watched a record of more than four hours of TV a day in the first three months of 2010 – and a record 48 ads a day as a result.

TV viewers notched up an average of four hours and 18 minutes a day in front of the box, an increase of close to 8% year on year, in the first quarter of this year according to a report published today by TV marketing body Thinkbox, based official Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board ratings figures.

This is up from an average of three hours and 56 minutes recorded in the first quarter last year. The figures show that the number of ads that people watch on commercial TV were up 4.9% year on year in the first quarter from 45 a day to 48. This is up 22% over the past five years.

In total British viewers watched 30 hours and 4 minutes of TV a week on average in the first quarter, an increase of two hours and 29 minutes year on year.

A number of factors have fuelled this growth including a new audience measurement system introduced by Barb in January. The new system, which is thought to give a 4% lift in TV viewing statistics, supposedly more accurately measures viewing via second TV sets and on-demand.

Other factors that could have helped boost TV viewing in the first three months of the year include the proliferation of digital channels, the economic recession and the unusually cold winter.

Thinkbox said that viewing growth has come from all age groups. The body forecasts that as digital TV nears 100% penetration, broadcast TV viewing will peak and stabilise. More than 90% of the UK TV homes already have digital, two years before the last regions are due to switch over from analogue terrestrial TV.

“Anyone who doubted the continuing importance and popularity of broadcast TV in the UK should hopefully be convinced by these new figures,” said the Thinkbox chief executive, Tess Alps. “Record levels are unlikely to continue. We are nearing the peak, if we are not there already. Once analogue signals are finally turned off the figures are likely to stabilise, but hopefully will remain at these high levels.”

The report only measures viewing through a television, so counts on-demand viewing through services such as Virgin Media’s cable service, but not through services such as the iPlayer that are watched on a computer.

Thinkbox said that across all UK TV households the average amount of “timeshifted”, or recorded, viewing, accounted for 6.9% of the total.

However, in households that have digital personal video recorders such as Sky+, which are now in 44% of homes, timeshifted viewing stands at 13.7% of the total.

The report showed that in the first quarter 61.46% of all TV viewing was on commercial channels. The average viewer watched 18 hours and 29 minutes of commercial TV a week in the first quarter, up one hour over the same period last year.

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Britons ‘watch four hours of tv a day