U.K. TV Audiences Tuning in More Than Ever (Study)

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The Wimbledon final won by Andy Murray drew a record number of tweets from TV viewers.

Research from U.K. media regulator Ofcom shows local families are gathering around the TV more, but also "media meshing" while they watch, tweeting or engaging related content on smart phones and tablets.

LONDON – Hollywood got some good TV news from the U.K. Thursday, as media watchdog Ofcom published data showing British audiences are gathering around the television more than ever.

The Ofcom research found families are once again collecting around the main television set while bringing tablets and smartphones with them. Ofcom said the U.K. has become a nation of multi-taskers.

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Viewing has been steadily rising, Ofcom data indicates, with U.K. audiences watching an average of four hours a day, 18 minutes more than in 2004.

At the same time the number of homes with second sets is falling – 41 percent of households now have only one TV, compared with 35 percent 10 years ago.

Ofcom director of research James Thickett noted that while the media watchdog's data shows assembling around the television "as they were in the 1950s," the difference is they are "tweeting about a TV show, surfing the net or watching different content altogether on a tablet."

Said Thickett: "Just a few years ago, we would be talking about last night’s TV at work or at school. Now, we’re having those conversations live while watching TV -- using social media, text and instant messaging.”

More than half -- 53 percent of U.K. adults -- regularly multi-task using other media while watching TV, Ofcom data found, with a quarter of adults also regularly interacting with or communicating about TV shows while watching TV.

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Dubbed "media meshing" by the regulator -- doing something else but related to what they’re watching on TV -- was seen during the 2013 Wimbledon Men’s tennis final when Andy Murray became the first British male champion in 77 years.

Over a million people worldwide tweeted 2.6 million times using hashtags associated with the tennis final. Of these tweets, around 80 percent came from mobile devices.

Despite hard economic times for the U.K., spending on communications has been increasing for two years and now accounts for 5.3 percent of total household expenses.

Smartphones in particular have pushed up the overall cost of communications, with the average household spending $174 (£114) a month last year.