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I am pleased to say that my latest report for Ofcom – Media Lives 2015 – has just been published on the Ofcom website.

Media Lives is a qualitative study designed to track the evolution of individuals’ relationship with digital media – how it fits into their lives, what motivates them to adopt new technology and learn new skills, their usage habits, levels of understanding, issues and concerns. The sample covers a broadly representative cross-section of the UK population.

One key aspect of Media Lives is that it is a longitudinal study: we track the same individuals each year and so can explore how their relationship with media changes over time. The latest wave of interviews (conducted over October and November 2015) were the eleventh round of fieldwork (last year we produced a special report [link] looking at the ten-year trends from the study). All interviews are filmed, clipped and tagged; a library of nearly 4,000 video clips now represents a uniquely rich and detailed resource for exploring the evolution of attitudes to digital media and media literacy issues in the UK.


Key insights from 2015 include:

  • Streaming services such as Netflix play an increasingly prominent role in participants’ viewing behaviour. Diverse, high quality content is now available across a range of streaming services, as well as on mainstream television. However this has led to the emergence of concerns about the number of subscriptions a user might need to be able to access all the content they want.
  • Streaming has had a significant impact on how many of our participants watch and talk about television. Shared family viewing experiences and ‘live’ viewing of programmes are now less common among much of our sample. Most claimed that the majority of their ‘appointment’ viewing is now of recorded or on-demand programmes or streaming content.
  • Participants now share a much wider range of content than previously, and are sharing much more often. They are not originating most of this content, but propagating it by sharing it with their networks. This form of content curation seems to have become an important way for social media users to express their identity online.
  • Social media platforms (especially Facebook) are becoming an increasingly important source of news. Many participants described themselves consuming news from a wide variety of different sources as a result of social media ‘shares’. This is one facet of an apparent growth in the reach and influence of alternative and non-traditional news sources such as Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Vice.

The full report is available for download here:


markMark Ellis is a specialist in media audience insight. His company, The Knowledge Agency, has run Ofcom’s Media Lives study since 2005. Contact: