Number of UK homes with TVs falls for first time

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Ofcom says broadband TV may one day be seen as a replacement for broadcast TV

The number of UK homes owning a TV set has fallen for the first time, as more people watch programmes on their laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Media watchdog Ofcom said TV-owning households dropped by 300,000 between the end of 2012 and the end of 2013, from 26.33 million to 26.02 million.

Nearly one million of the homes without a TV set do have internet access.

Ofcom said this indicated a trend towards using other devices to watch catch-up programmes online.

The number of households owning one or more TV sets had risen steadily every year since 1956, when figures started being collected.

The first survey found 5.7 million households - about one in three - owned a television. By the 1970s, 93% of homes were able to watch programmes.

Changing habits

As well as TV household numbers supplied by Barb, Ofcom's Infrastructure Report also cited July figures from BBC iPlayer.

These showed that 47% of that month's iPlayer requests came from tablets or mobiles, up from just 25% in October 2012.

Ofcom suggested that "over time, more consumers may come to regard broadband TV services as a replacement for broadcast TV".

In the 18-24 age group, 15% watch most of their television on a laptop, compared to the national average of 3%.

The report also looked at how the UK's broadband and communications networks are supporting this growth.

It highlighted how broadband speeds vary considerably, with concerns over availability a fact of life in "city not-spots" such as central London, as well as rural areas.

The average UK household or small business now downloads the equivalent of 35 feature films worth of data each month, a 77% increase on 2013.

It also uploads the equivalent of 3,500 digital photos every month.

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