How NI’s viewing habits are changing
Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report paints a picture of an increasingly interconnected Northern Ireland, where the internet is now accessed through our TV as well as smartphones and tablets. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/technology/how-nis-viewing-habits-are-changing-36007303.html
Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report paints a picture of an increasingly interconnected Northern Ireland, where the internet is now accessed through our TV as well as smartphones and tablets. More than three-quarters of adults (76%) in Northern Ireland now own a smartphone, and nearly six in ten (58%) say this is their most important device for going online. Ofcom’s research also reveals a rise in tablet ownership, with three in five households (62%) now having one.
One-third (33%) of homes in Northern Ireland now have a smart TV – almost double what it was last year. Four out of five homes (79%) have a fixed-line broadband connection. And it’s in TV where these devices and the broadband and mobile services that support them is having the biggest impact. Long gone are the days when there were a handful of TV channels and just a single TV in the house on which to watch them.
Viewers are embracing the freedom to watch what they want, when they want. While watching live TV remains important, people are increasingly turning to catch-up and on-demand streaming platforms. Services from the public service broadcasters, such as the BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, are the most popular ways of watching on-demand and streaming programmes but significant numbers are also using YouTube for watching programmes and films (27%), while 28% now use Netflix and 16% use Amazon Video. The growing popularity of on-demand services is turning us into a nation of binge viewers, where we watch multiple episodes of a series in one sitting, wiping out the wait for next week’s instalment. One third (35%) of adults in Northern Ireland do so every week, and more than half (55%) do it monthly.
This technology has been around for a while but we are now seeing a tipping point where these services have become mainstream. These are important developments not just for consumers but for companies providing these services and for media professionals that use these platforms for advertising, sponsorship and promotion. These changes aren’t yet seismic but a trend has been developing in recent years, which is the kind of thing that Ofcom’s Communications Market Report is adept at picking up and highlighting.
The report looks at people’s take-up and usage of technology across a range of sectors, from TV and radio through to post, telecoms and the internet. People in Northern Ireland now spend more than 20 hours every week online, and younger people are far more likely to be online than the over-65s. People in households with children are also more likely to have an internet connection than those without children (90% versus 72%). Despite the rise in online activity, traditional media remains important and dominant.
Adults in Northern Ireland spend more time watching live TV (an average of 3 hours 36 minutes a day) than engaging in any other communications activity, though there are big differences between younger and older viewers. Younger viewers watch less live TV and much more on-demand programming than older ones. Ofcom’s research also shows that people continue to turn to TV first to keep up with the latest news. More than seven in ten adults (72%) in Northern Ireland say TV is the most important source of news in Northern Ireland, followed by radio (12%) and websites or apps (7%).
Listening to the radio continues to play an important part in our lives, and nine in 10 people in Northern Ireland tune in every week. So, while viewers and listeners are consuming media in more ways than ever, the core activities of watching live TV and listening to radio remain strong. Researching the trends that are developing around these activities is key to understanding what people will be doing in three, five or 10 years.
Jonathan Rose is Ofcom’s Northern Ireland director.
Its Communications Market Report is available on its website, visit www.ofcom.org.uk/cmr
Brexit won’t hinder investment in Northern Ireland broadband speeds, says Virgin
Virgin Media’s boss says Brexit “hasn’t dampened our appetite to invest” as it rolls out its new ‘ultrafast’ broadband to more than 50,000 homes across Northern Ireland. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/brexit-wont-hinder-investment-in-northern-ireland-broadband-speeds-says-virgin-35994632.html
Virgin Media’s boss says Brexit “hasn’t dampened our appetite to invest” as it rolls out its new ‘ultrafast’ broadband to more than 50,000 homes across Northern Ireland. Tony Hanway, chief executive of Virgin Media Ireland, was speaking to the Belfast Telegraph as the company announced that work has begun on its new faster broadband across Northern Ireland as part of an overall ?3bn investment.
“It’s great news for Northern Ireland, a region of the UK that has experienced some of the slower broadband speeds,” he said.
“We will be connecting to a minimum of 100Mb/s to a potential of 300, or up to 350 for businesses.
“We are not announcing any change in our tariffs, so it’s an expansion of our network. The tariffs compare favourably to the competition for a far superior service.”
Mr Hanway said a lot of the work was already under way to install the new network across Northern Ireland.
“Northern Ireland is getting more than its proportionate share of the programme.
“We are very happy. We are growing the network. The brand is doing well in the province and attracting customers.
“This is the next step for us. To bring more super-fast broadband.
“It takes us on a whole new trajectory in terms of growth.”
But he said that while Brexit “hasn’t dampened our appetite to invest”, that the business would keep an eye on any changes.
“It’s definitely a factor we have looked at, but it hasn’t dampened investment in the UK.
“(We are) very much on track.”
He said the new faster broadband, which installs fibre optic into homes is “future-proof”.
“In many respects, this investment is going to stand the test of time much more than other technologies.”
Work has already begun in communities including Ballykelly, Bangor, Limavady, Newtownards, Strabane and Artigarvan, with customers benefiting from ultrafast speeds.
“Families and businesses – from Bangor to Ballykelly – will soon benefit from ultrafast broadband 12 times faster than the average speed available today,” Mr Hanway said.
“Virgin Media stands ready to invest in Northern Ireland, without subsidy from Stormont, London or Brussels.
“But, like any major infrastructure investment, we need support from local authorities and Government to cut through red tape so we can connect more homes and businesses more quickly.”
The new broadband’s lowest tier is around four times as fast as average speeds in Northern Ireland, according to Virgin Media.
Backed by parent company Liberty Global, Virgin Media says it is investing ?3bn to extend its fibre broadband network to an additional four million premises, and to reach a total of 17 million homes and businesses when the scheme is completed.
Ex-Taoiseach John Bruton urges UK to spell out Brexit ideas
Former Taoiseach John Bruton has challenged the Democratic Unionist Party and the UK Government to spell out exactly the sort of Brexit they want. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/republic-of-ireland/extaoiseach-john-bruton-urges-uk-to-spell-out-brexit-ideas-35996606.html
Former Taoiseach John Bruton has challenged the Democratic Unionist Party and the UK Government to spell out exactly the sort of Brexit they want. Mr Bruton said that neither had “come forward with their own ideas” on issues such as the Irish border or remaining in the customs union after the UK leaves the European Union.
He added that the English overruled the wishes of Northern Ireland and Scotland and they now need to “change their opinion”. Relations between Arlene Foster’s party and the Irish government remain strained after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ireland would not help Britain design an economic border for Brexiteers. He said Brexiteers were the ones who wanted a border, so it is up to them to design one.
Mrs Foster described the comments as “not helpful”. Speaking on RTE’s Good Morning Ireland on Thursday, Mr Bruton said while it looked likely that Brexit would now happen, “we have to do everything we can to stop it happening, if we can”.
“Really, it is the English. They have to change their opinion. They have initiated Brexit. The opinion in Northern Ireland was against Brexit, and the opinion in Scotland was against Brexit. That has been overruled,” he said.
Mr Bruton added that the DUP should be more up-front with its own Brexit ideas.
“Some hard questions have to be asked. What sort of Brexit do they want? Do they want the UK in the customs union? What sort of agricultural policy do they want, because that will be very important at the border?” he asked.
Mr Varadkar is due to meet with Stormont’s political parties on Friday on his first visit to the region since becoming Taoiseach.
He also intends to take part in a gay pride event in Belfast on Saturday morning.