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UK Time Spent with Media 2019

As Total Consumption Plateaus, Smartphones Take the Slack

Time Spent with Media 2019

Forecasts for nine markets: US, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Latin America, South Korea, UK; as well as mobile and social media time spent in the US

See All
About This Report
UK adults have reached peak media consumption, spending an average of 9 hours, 38 minutes each day with media. Time spent is shifting to digital channels, particularly to smartphones.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Consumers have reached a media consumption limit in the UK. People are now shifting certain traditional habits onto digital platforms, and consuming media more than ever on smartphones.

How much time do UK adults spend consuming media each day?

Time spent with media will inch up by 1 minute this year, to 9 hours and 38 minutes (For simplicity’s sake, our style for expressing such a number in the text that follows will be 9:38.). That will increase by 2 minutes in 2020, to 9:40, when it will then plateau.

What proportion of time will be spent consuming media via digital means?

The shares of time spent watching broadcast TV on a TV set or reading print newspapers, are declining, and digital media consumption is picking up the slack. In 2019, such consumption will account for 54.7% of time spent with media, up from 52.4% last year.

What’s mobile’s influence on the digital total?

Mobile will be a significant driver of digital growth. And within mobile itself, daily time spent with media on smartphones will be the only category in our forecast to experience persistent growth, up 11.3% this year.

How much video are UK adults consuming, and how are they consuming it?

Video is emblematic of some of the larger trends present in our time spent forecast—traditional may be declining, but digital consumption of similar content is offsetting those declines. Overall video time will remain largely static across our forecast.

Is social media time plateauing, too?

No, it will experience small increases throughout our forecast, driven by smartphone usage. However, growth isn’t coming from Facebook. Instead, other mobile-first and video-heavy platforms are catching the attention of UK adults.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our latest forecast for UK time spent with media, broken down by traditional and digital consumption. It also examines what’s driving changes in consumption habits among UK adults.

An important note on how we account for multitasking in our estimates of time spent with media: If someone spends an hour watching TV (for example) and uses a smartphone to surf the web during the same hour, we count this as an hour of usage for each medium, and hence as 2 hours of total media time.

KEY STAT: Among users of each medium, time spent is either flat or declining, with the exception of smartphone time, which is expected to surpass 4 hours daily by 2021.

Behind the Numbers

eMarketer’s methodology for its UK time spent with media forecast is based on an analysis of 1,144 metrics from 66 sources. This analysis involves the collection of third-party data—primarily survey data—from adult respondents, asking them about their media use habits. Data is also sourced from online and mobile activity tracking services, government data and interviews with industry experts.

Using a bottom-up analysis, we assess and analyze reported time spent with each device and media activity across various sources. And where definitions differ, the data is normalized and interpreted in terms of our definition (i.e., the UK population ages 18 and older). The data is then aggregated with the time contributions from each device and media type to arrive at an estimate for average time spent with media per day.

In order to arrive at forecasts for growth rates by media and by device, this analysis is followed by extensive assessments of historical and expected future growth patterns with regard to device adoption, multiple and overlapping device usage, population and demographic factors and competitors to existing devices and activities.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

3expert perspectives

Insights from industry and company leaders.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. An Overview of Our Main UK Time Spent Numbers
  3. Trends in Focus: Time Spent with Video
  4. Trends in Focus: Time Spent with Social
  1. Trends in Focus: Time Spent with Mobile
  2. Trends in Focus: Time Spent vs. Ad Spend
  3. Key Takeaways
  4. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Paul Astbury
Integral Ad Science
Business Development Director, EMEA
Interviewed April 24, 2019
Helen Rose
Head of Insight and Analytics
Interviewed April 24, 2019
Paul Rowlinson
GroupM Digital UK
Managing Director
Interviewed April 29, 2019


Bill Fisher


Mark Dolliver
Principal Analyst
Jennifer Jhun
Research Director, International and Special Projects
Angela Kim
Senior Researcher
Showmik Podder
Forecasting Analyst
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