Record number of viewers tune into commercial TV

Commercial television has maintained the record level of viewing figures it recorded in the first quarter of 2008, despite destabilising upheavals being experienced within the broadcasting companies and the arrival of more online distractions, such as Twitter.

The average person in the UK watched 17 hours and 24 minutes of commercial TV a week for the first quarter of 2009, according to the Broadcaster Audience Research Board. This represents a 1.1% increase in commercial TV’s share of total broadcast TV to 63.5%.

Shows from commercial channels that pulled in strong audiences outside the soaps include Dancing on Ice, Whitechapel, Harry Hill’s TV Burp, Celebrity Big Brother, Shameless, Big Chef takes on Little Chef and UEFA Champions League.

Total broadcast TV viewing, including BBC channels, remained stable year-on-year at 27 hours and 24 minutes a week. BARB also reports that 40% of total TV viewing is of non-terrestrial channels.

This stability in TV viewing could reflect the impact of the economic downturn that has encouraged consumers to stay at home.

Tess Alps, chief executive of TV marketing body Thinkbox, says of the figures: “This is good news for advertisers and a vote of confidence in commercial broadcasting.”

However, broadcasters, including ITV, Channel 4 and Five, have warned that deep cuts are expected in programming investment this year. Observers say that this may have an impact on commercial TV’s future popularity.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here