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Study: Italians Watch More TV, Brits Prefer OTT

Italians watch more linear TV than any other country in Europe – about 4 hours and 20 minutes per day – but the British lead the pack in online and personal video recorder viewership, according to a recent study by IHS Technology.

In its report IHS found that U.K. residents watched an average of 14 minutes less TV per day in 2014 than in the prior year. But Brits substantially increased the amount of time they spend watching shows on PVRs like Sky+ and YouView, or via streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

“The UK was an early mover with high quality online catch-up services from local broadcasters like the BBC and Channel 4,” said IHS senior director of media and content Dan Cryan in a statement. “This has now been joined with clever marketing initiatives like ‘digital box sets’ from Sky and the presence of the major platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime.”

In 2005, under three minutes a day was spent watching recorded TV, but in 2014, Brits spent about 43 minutes per day watching recorded shows on services like Sky+ and YouView.

Following a steep fall in 2007, traditional TV viewing in Italy grew by an average of four minutes and 42 seconds per-person per-day between 2008 and 2014 to reach four hours and 20 minutes. Including online and pay TV viewing, that number of hours rises to four hours and 37 minutes per day.   

“Continued growth of viewing, in particular linear, can be attributed to Italy’s difficult financial situation, with high unemployment correlating to an increase in TV viewing time on a per-person per-day basis,” Cryan said in a statement. "Online viewing times are very low compared to the other countries in the study. “Despite investment, we are not seeing the kind of pick up or adoption in other European countries."

According to IHS, other countries were slower to board the streaming bandwagon, with Spain keeping linear viewing steady at 242 minutes per day, but watching just 8 minutes per day online (a 24% increase). French TV viewers watched about 216 minutes of broadcast TV each day, 10 minutes less than the year before. And though they are watching more online, it’s not at the pace of their British counterparts. Non-traditional viewing time rose 17% in 2014 in France to about 21 minutes per day, with the largest increases from pay TV operators’ video on demand services, which grew about 20% to 7 minutes per-day. Netflix only launched in France in the fourth quarter of 2014, so the full impact of the streaming service was not visible in 2014.

“Pay TV operators in France are clearly concerned about the competition from Netflix, as we saw providers expanding their on-demand offerings with new features and services to combat the threat,” Cryan said in a statement.

In Germany, TV viewership held steady at 210 minutes per day and ay TV subscriptions increased by 700,000 in 2014, continuing a seven-year growth trend.

“When it comes to TV, German consumers prefer to pay for access rather than content, and as a result, traditional television channels that offer popular shows remain dominant in the German market,” said IHS analyst Daniel Sutton in a statement.

The U.S. still leads the world in TV viewership with Americans spending 351 minutes per day in front of the tube. And while traditional TV remains entrenched in the U.S., there are signs that position is being chipped away by alternative content and consumption models.

“We are seeing a quiet revolution in the way that Americans watch video,” Cryan said in a statement.