Warc, 10 June 2014
LONDON: All UK broadcasters are facing a decline in the number of younger viewers but new figures indicate that the BBC and Channel 4 are suffering significantly more than the average.
Between 2010 and 2013 there was an overall drop of 7% in the number of 25 to 34 year olds watching television in the traditional manner. Encouragingly for advertisers, commercial broadcaster ITV fared better than most with only a 3% drop. The BBC, however, recorded a 12% drop, according to official BARB figures seen by The Independent.
In the younger 16 to 24 demographic the downward trend was even more pronounced, with a 15% fall across the board. Once again, ITV was least hard hit, down 13%, compared to 17% at the BBC, 18% at Sky and 19% at Channel 4.
The Independent suggested that the nation's broadcasters were "facing a battle to retain young viewers "in the face of the relentless growth of Google's YouTube platform".
MediaTel noted, however, that these figures did not include mobile and tablet viewing and could therefore be an indication that younger audiences were moving online rather than abandoning television altogether.
Channel 4 claimed to have had a positive start to the current year, with its share of 16-34 year old viewers up 1% year on year. Further, viewer numbers at one of its youth-oriented channels, E4, were up 5%.
"C4 continues to have a unique appeal with a young audience," a spokesman said. "In the last three years more than half of the UK's 16-24 year olds have registered with us as part of our viewer engagement strategy."
Paul Zwillenberg, partner and managing director of the Boston Consulting Group, offered an alarming comparison when he said that "the BBC and Channel 4 are starting to experience newspaper-like audience declines in their core demographics.
"Digital video is having a transformational impact on TV viewing; especially among younger audiences," he noted.
Data sourced from The Independent, MediaTel; additional content by Warc staff