Online Viewing vs Linear TV

old television

In recent years, online video viewing has erupted, especially with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Video. This leads to a lively debate as to whether or not the future of video viewing lies within online or linear. In this post we delve into the research surrounding this notion.

It has been suggested that linear TV viewing rates are set to drop worldwide. However, TV is still the highest provider of video viewing, and has been proven to account for 65% of ‘young people’s’ total viewing.

Thinkbox carried out a study called ‘Truth about Youth’, comparing 16 to 24 year-old age groups with all individuals. 30% of the focus groups watched videos on tablets and smartphones, this is double that of the average person living in the UK, at 15%.

The study included play-back, video-on-demand, live TV, online viewing services (such as YouTube), DVD’s, and subscription video-on-demand services (such as Netflix).

There are many arguments to suggest why online viewing has taken off so rapidly, but what this study suggests is a high rate of competition, between younger viewers and their parents or siblings, to be able to watch what they want. This illustrates that viewers are increasingly watching programmes on their tablets so they aren’t restricted, to what they can and cannot watch, by others.

Is this new found viewing freedom driving a wedge between people interacting with each other? The ‘silent generation’ suggests how nobody communicates in person anymore. People rarely smile at each other in the street or say “good morning” as we are all so fixated on our mobiles and tablets. We no longer have to endure other people’s viewing pleasures or make polite small talk.

Is linear viewing becoming a thing of the past?

People are no longer forced to rush home or stay in so they don’t miss their favourite programme. With the availability of playback on Sky record, and those such as iPlayer and 4oD, people are able to catch up on their favourite programmes when they wish to. Having said this, you only have to look at the likes of X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing, every year boasting of their high viewing rates, to see that linear viewing is still taking front seat.

Global Web Index says, since 2012, daily time spent on linear TV has been holding remarkably steady even as online programming manages to capture an increasing amount of our time. Clearly, then, we’re not witnessing a direct or clear-cut shift from linear to online.


Online vs Linear


As the chart demonstrates, online viewing is vastly on the up. Although, to say it will kill out linear TV all together, at least for now, would seem to be incorrect. Needless to say, with the rate of new technology being produced who knows what the future may bring?

On the positive side, people are watching something that interests them and stimulates their mind, as opposed to being subjected to whatever is on at the time. This means viewers are able to filter what they’re watching, down to what they have a genuine interest in.

What are your thoughts? How often do you watch online compared to television? Get involved with the discussion and comment below.