How the Streaming Revolution Has Changed TV Habits in the UK

How we spend time on the sofa continues to change at pace. While some of us had to choose between a handful of channels using a TV dial, others grew up with endless cable options.

We’ve never had more choice when it comes to what we can watch on TV. The traditional superpowers like the BBC, ITV, and Sky now have to contend with Prime Video, Netflix, and more.

But has that had a profound effect on what we watch and how we watch it?

What Are the Most Popular Shows?

Documentaries and dramas are the most popular shows among UK TV viewers. While you might think that Netflix binges have changed this, it was a BBC production that took the top spot in 2023.

Blue Planet II was the most popular programme of the year. This compares similarly to a decade prior when BBC output made up more than half of the most-watched shows in 2013.

The UK’s state broadcaster was a leading figure in the switch to streaming in this country. The BBC launched its iPlayer platform in 2007 before many of us knew what Netflix or Roku were.

How Is the UK Consuming TV?

iPlayer is now over a decade and a half into its existence, and platforms like Netflix and Disney+ are deeply ingrained into family life.

And this is perhaps where the most telling change in our viewing habits has come. Studies in 2022 found that there had been the largest drop in people watching ‘live’ broadcasts.

People are no longer clearing their schedules to make an appointment with a certain channel and their sofa. And why would they? Every major channel now has easily accessible catch-up services, and VOD providers like Netflix and Disney can be accessed 24/7.

Tips to Improve the Streaming Experience

So, it looks like streaming is not just here to stay. It’s here to take over.

While TV services are unshakeably reliable when it comes to clarity and quality, it’s not always the same with streaming. As your internet connection plays a role in delivering quality, here are some simple ways to ensure you don’t miss out on a perfect stream.

Upgrade Your Internet

This is the simplest and most effective solution. You’ll benefit from faster download speeds and sharper pictures if you can afford an upgrade.

Use a VPN

A VPN can improve your streaming experience by limiting your provider’s ability to ‘throttle’ your bandwidth.

Connect via Ethernet

If you’re streaming on a device connected to your TV – and your router is nearby – an ethernet cable will give you a more stable connection.

Turn Off Connected Devices

Smartphones often run connected apps even when you’re not using them, so switch these to mobile data while streaming on other devices.

Reboot Your Router

Sometimes, this can kick your router back into life by cutting off other apps and processes that were using bandwidth.


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