UK viewers have set a new record for watching commercial TV viewing an average of 16.7 hours each week for the first six months of the year.

The report from TV marketing body Thinkbox also showed that viewers saw an average 43 ads daily – a 2% rise year-on-year – equating to just under 2.5bn television ads being viewed each day across the country.

According to Barb figures, total broadcast TV viewing in 2009 until the end of June was 26.2 hours, almost identical year on year but an increase of 18 minutes since 2004, said the report.

But the weekly average viewing of UK commercial TV was up nearly 10 minutes year on year.

Commercial TV accounted for 63.7% of total broadcast viewing – a growth of 3.2% in the past five years – for the first six months of the year, with the remainder watching the BBC.

Factors behind the increase are credit conscious people staying at home more in the recession and new technologies which “magnetise” viewers to their living rooms, the report said.   

Barb figures do not include programmes watched on digital platforms like BBC iPlayer or ITV Player, which could push the figure even higher.

But despite the increase, the market is unlikely to take much comfort from the figures. Tomorrow, ITV is expected to reveal its second double digit drop in advertising revenues year on year in its annual report, despite out performing the market as a whole.

Thinkbox chief executive Tess Alps said: “In January we said the record broadcast viewing levels set last year couldn’t continue, but – astonishingly – they have.

“Record viewing is of course great for advertisers and the smartest are taking advantage of this, running longer time-lengths than normal, adding bursts or bringing smaller brands onto TV.”

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