How are audiences watching video given all the platforms and services available?’, ‘What’s driving audiences’ viewing decisions?’ and ‘What does this all mean for the future of TV?’.

As someone who works in the media industry, we’re sure these are familiar and pertinent questions for you; fortuitously, they’re also the questions that we were tasked with answering by Thinkbox. This November, we presented our findings for ‘The Age of Television’ study to an audience of advertisers and industry experts, which provided the most comprehensive view of the changing TV landscape to date. We’d recommend having a watch of our presentation and downloading the key slides (video available here and slides from here), but in the meantime, we’ll give you a taste of our findings:



Thinkbox wanted to build on past learnings, and develop a comprehensive, up-to-date understanding of the role video content plays in our lives and how this varies for different audiences, dependent on life stage and context, with an eye on the implications for the future of TV.


We designed a multi-staged approach, including:

  • Qualitative analysis of 150 days of TV and video viewing filmed through camera glassesacross 30 people
  • In-home depth interviews with the same 30 people, aged 16-75
  • Behavioural economicsanalysis
  • A quantitative survey of 6,000 people in the UK
  • Strategic extrapolation of findings


We updated Thinkbox’s 2013 model of needs that drive TV viewing to account for the 2018 landscape. Previously covering live, play back and on demand TV, we expanded the model to also include online video from platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube. Our model outlines the 8 reasons that we watch video, and identifies how much video-viewing time is spent meeting each need.

Summary of our findings

  • As there are more video formats available, the range of needs fulfilled by video has grown since the first need state model 5 years ago
  • There are powerful, enduring needs that motivate video viewing across age groups, such as the need for comfort (driven by spending time with loved ones) and unwinding (de-stressing). These needs are particularly fulfilled by linear TV
  • Linear TV also excels at helping us stay in touch with what’s going on in the world (especially for those aged 45+), and in providing mass, shared viewing experiences (think Bodyguard, the World Cup or Love Island!)
  • Online video platforms (YouTube, Facebook etc.) serve more distinct need states, which tend to be motivated by finding practical information (like tutorials) or quick distractions from day-to-day activities (and 16-34 year olds are more likely to experience this video need)
  • The need to escape into TV is now being fulfilled better than ever by both linear TV and on demand services, which provides more flexibility to viewing, such as drama box sets (16-34 year olds are more likely to turn to on demand services than those aged 35+ to satisfy this need)
  • Lastly, audiences who want to indulge personal or niche interests turn to the widest range of platforms, such as linear TV, on demand as well as online video for many (especially for 16-34 year olds).


If you’d like to know more about this study, or discuss the future of TV and how it might affect your business, please get in touch!