The number of UK subscriptions to streaming services like Netflix has overtaken those to traditional pay TV for the first time, new research from the communications watchdog has found.

Ofcom found the total number of UK subscriptions to the three most popular online streaming services - Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV - was 15.4 million in the first quarter of this year, compared to 15.1 million pay TV subscriptions.

And its research also shows the amount of time the average person spent watching broadcast television on TV has continued to decline. In 2017 it stood at an average of 3 hours 22 minutes a day - down nine minutes since 2016 and 38 minutes since 2012. Over-54s make up 28% of the population of the UK, but accounted for 51% of broadcast television viewing on the TV set that year.

The findings are part of Ofcom’s Media Nations report - a comprehensive study of major trends in the UK’s television, radio and audio sectors, published today.

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What does Ofcom say?

Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, said: “Today’s research finds that what we watch and how we watch it are changing rapidly, which has profound implications for UK television.

“We have seen a decline in revenues for pay TV, a fall in spending on new programmes by our public service broadcasters, and the growth of global video streaming giants. These challenges cannot be underestimated.

“But UK broadcasters have a history of adapting to change. By making the best British programmes and working together to reach people who are turning away from TV, our broadcasters can compete in the digital age.”