August 17, 2009

Who still watches "live" TV?

A recent OFCOM report on TV usage suggests that more and more of us watch our TV timeshifted. Here are the headlines:
  • At the end of March, over a quarter of UK homes (27%) had a PVR ("Personal Video Recorder", such as the V+ or Sky+), representing an increase of 29% since September, 2008.
  • Around 9 million PVR's have been sold in the UK, the majority (over 5 million) of which are Sky+ boxes.
  • Around a fifth (19%) of viewing in Sky+ homes is timeshifted, while in homes equipped with Virgin Media's V+ PVR service 12% of viewing is timeshifted; in Freeview PVR homes, meanwhile, around 9% of viewing is timeshifted.
The full text of the report's TV section is available online at:

So if you have a V+, do you still watch live TV (excepting sport or news)? I hardly watch anything when it's actually broadcast these days, the only exception really being what I'd call "event" TV, stuff I choose to watch at the earliest opportunity (Lost being one of the few examples of this). In fact, I think I actually watch less TV than I did before the V+, but I'm more selective in what I watch.
Which presents a problem with the new HD channels still being the less efficient compression of MPeg2. My V+ hard disc just ain't big enough to record several episodes of an HD series without the disc groaning under the size of a few hours of HD. What's more, the HD section of iPlayer seems to be extremely hit and miss, which means my (manual) series stacking of Desperate Romantics and Being Human has been recorded from SD rather than high def as I know I won't get around to watching them for a while. Anyone else struggling with this? I find that I only record HD programmes if I plan to watch them the same week now, which makes the whole thing somwhat frustrating.


Tank said...

The only real live tv I watch is Kerrang, usualy on as background noise when on the computer. All the rest of my viewing is with TiVo or V+ recordings. (not a sports fan)


JoeK said...

A new word is needed for "That feeling of intense annoyance felt when hitting fast-forward on the V+ controller during an advert break only to find that you are actually watching live TV."

Or to answer your original question - I would say 80-90% of my TV watching is V+ or On Demand.

lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lee said...

Am I right in in 'remembering' that the new Samsung box has a port for (potentially) an external drive?

Even the old/current box has an e-sata port, but not used.

Tom Chiverton said...

About 80% of my time is shifted, the vast majority of 'live' is the news and sport.

@lee, yes it has a socket, but it isn't enabled

matty said...

Wow. And we thought we were the only ones that recorded all TV and watched it later!

Seriously though, I wouldn't generally record sports events (but have in the past). We record all shows on after 10pm and 50% of those on after 9pm (we have a young baby) and watch them the next night (before 9pm).

In the autumn months when lots of good TV is scheduled we can max out our V+ box!

Probably the greatest invention of the 20th century ;o)

@JoeK - love it, but can't think of a word yet!

Anonymous said...

I find it frankly staggering that amongst V+ owners only 12% of viewing is timeshifted. I'd say about 90-95% of my family's is: we have a fairly busy life so frequently even end up watching sport with some delay.

What's especially odd is that Virgin's figure is lower than Sky - you'd expect the proportion of Virgin viewers who've got a V+ purely to watch HD content to be relatively lower and hence the proportion using it for timeshifting to be higher.

sammyjayuk said...

Fast thwarted! Sorry, best I could do...

I only ever get it when at someone else's place though - if I had to come up with a figure I'd say that at least 95% of my actual viewing is recorded. Occasionally, I'll see something on live that I want to watch, but I'll record it if it's not too far in.

Most of my live viewing is on News 24 - it's my "primary" live channel, I suppose you could call it, on both my Sky+HD and the V+ (which I keep because it's generally so reliable - you'll all be amused to know that I'll soon be on my *third* Sky+HD box...), which I'll back out to if there's something interesting happening. It used to be BBC Two, but I recently realised that, since I never watch enough live TV to ever catch the news, I had no idea what was going on in the world!

I'm currently wondering whether it ought to be BBC Two again...


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