Busy Ofcom has produced its latest State of the Communications Market report and finds revenue at an all-time low of £54.7 billion as the internet continues to kill the TV star. The major culprits Ofcom found was contracting TV sales, telecoms and postal revenues.
While broadcasters still command the most viewing figures, Ofcom found that spend on TV fell by an average 4% per month. In contrast subscription services like Netflix saw sales grow to £895 million. In all, a substantial 39% of the population now have an on-demand service.
Our changing habits with phones saw telecoms sales fall by 1% to £35.6 billion in 2017. Outgoing calls per person fell by a significant 18% and 2% for fixed and mobile respectively. The report also found that SMS and MMS messages per person fell by 16% to 98 texts.
One reason for this has been the increase in mobile data use which rose from 1.3GB in 2016 to 1.9GB in 2017. Fixed line usage rose an average of 132GB for the same period.
Take-up of fixed broadband has plateaued at 80% but there has been an increase in spend on fixed voice and internet services, due in large part to the growth of superfast services.
And while superfast broadband connections rose from 10.8 million to 12.8 million, 2017 was described by Ofcom as a watershed moment when the number of ADSL fixed broadband connections were overtaken by fibre connections.
The UK is now seventh in the European Union when it came to the availability of next-gen access cable and fibre infrastructure, but Ofcom said we still lag behind other countries when it came to full-fibre availability.
Better smartphone technology means more people are using the phone to go online as opposed to a desktop computer or laptop, 62% as compared to just 25% respectively.
And this migration has led to changes in the way people buy mobile services. The trend has been away from pre-paid to pay-monthly services and the more recent phenomena of SIM-only deals. In turn driven by the increasing number of minimum contracts.
And when it came to our internet searches Ofcom found that 87% use Google but a rugged 4% still use Ask. A fifth turn to Yahoo! while 44% use Bing and 1% use DuckDuckGo.
For us radio four addicts there was welcome news that radio continues to buck the trend. Ofcom found that an astonishing nine-in-ten adults listen to the radio for an average of 21 hours per week. In fact, 75% of audio listening is through live radio.
But Ofcom believes this may all change with the growing popularity of podcasts. If they are factored into the figures, the amount of time spent listening to live radio actually dropped to 48%.
For our beleaguered postal services, the continued shift to online communications saw addressed letter revenue fall 6% to £4.1 billion. In good news there was a boost in parcel revenues with 12% more parcels sent in 2017 than the previous year. Ofcom said this was due to the continued growth of online shopping which companies, such as Royal Mail have clearly benefited from.
Welcome news is that direct marketing continued to fall. 2016 saw a 10% decline and 2017 saw a further 2% fall. Restaurants and takeaways continue to be the main offenders for clogging up our letter boxes.
Image: Evert F. Baumgardner