TV ownership in the UK falls for the first time

The number of UK homes with a television has dropped for the first time since 1953 according to an Ofcom study

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The tide could be turning against the traditional TV set as viewers opt to watch programmes on tablets and smartphones, according to an Ofcom report.

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The media regulator’s study shows that the number of households with a television set fell from 26.33 million at the end of 2012 to 26.02 million at the end of last year.

This is the first recorded drop in TV ownership since 1953 when thousands of Britons bought their first set in order to watch the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Since then television ownership has risen steadily in line with population growth according to the regulator.

In 1956, 5.7 million households owned a television, rising to a peak of 26.5 million in January last year. 

The research – published in Ofcom’s Infrastructure 2014 report – showed that nearly one million homes have a broadband connection but do not own a television. This suggests that other internet-connected devices are being used to supply the household’s entertainment needs.

Ofcom said on-demand viewing in particular is growing in importance and being watched on smartphones, tablets, computers and games consoles.

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“The way consumers interact with their TV, phone and broadband is changing as fast as technology is evolving,” said the body’s outgoing chief executive Ed Richards.