Britons spend 9.5 years watching TV over a lifetime – new survey

(Image credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima)

A new survey has found that on average a UK TV viewer will spend seven weeks a year watching TV, which equates to 9.5 years over an adult lifetime (considered to be 85 years).

The survey of 2,000 people by, which is the catch-up service for Dave, Drama, Really and Yesterday channels, found that the average person watches an astounding 24 hours of TV each week, more than a third eat at least one meal in front of the TV every day, and the average household now has four different devices they watch TV on.

Other key findings in the new survey include:

  • As the average person watches 24 hours of TV a week, 40 per cent watch at least 26 hours of TV a week, with a dedicated seven per cent of us watching up to 40 hours every week – over 5 and half hours a day.
  • Geordies take the crown for being the biggest TV addicts in Britain, with 52 per cent of respondents from the North East admitting they regularly watch over 26 hours a week, and 15 per cent claiming they watch in excess of 40 hours of TV on a weekly basis.
  • The average Brit will happily spend four hours in front of a single show. Young people are most likely to watch shows in bulk: 18-24 year olds spend an average of five hours in front of their favourite show, whereas those aged 55 and over switch off after just three hours.
  • The survey reveals that women and men share similar at-home TV habits; both watching an average of 24 hours a week and preferring to switch off the box by 11pm each night. But when asked to choose just one genre to watch for the rest of their lives, the majority of men chose comedy (30 per cent), whereas women preferred drama (43 per cent).
  • While TV viewing remains the preserve of shared family time (40 per cent), 17 per cent of people surveyed also enjoy watching TV with friends and housemates, but over a third (36 per cent) admit to watching the bulk of their TV alone.  
  • It seems TV watching is also a multitasking activity for many, with 46 per cent of us regularly using a phone or a tablet at the same time as watching television.
  • This multitasking isn’t limited to the use of other devices, with people revealing they eat in front of the TV six times per week on average. This multitasking continues at work: 19 per cent admit to watching TV in the workplace; over half (56 per cent) of which are cheeky enough to do so right at their desks and a sly nine per cent going to the workplace bathroom. 
  • Londoners are most likely to have pulled a sickie to catch up on their favourite show (12 per cent), followed by those in Wales (11 per cent) – whereas South Westerners (four per cent) are least likely to bunk off work for a telly catch-up.

Pictured: pioneer of television, John Logie Baird


Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.