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A nation of telly addicts - but will we switch screens?

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Home computers are now little more than 'the means to an end' for entertainment and communication, with the most dramatic recent development being the rapid expansion of social networking on websites such as Facebook and Twitter. However, while social networking does occupy an increasing number of leisure time hours, consumer research* for Leisure in the Home, a new Market Review from market intelligence provider Key Note, reveals that watching television still currently dominates home-based leisure. Nearly the whole population watches television on a regular basis, with 97.4% of adults watching television on at least a weekly basis.

Home viewing has enjoyed relatively strong growth recently, as the market moves towards complete digitalisation and as more households pay for subscription television. Watching television retains its position as the number-one leisure activity in the home in terms of weekly penetration - the precise percentage (97.4%) did not change between 2008 and 2010. Key Note's survey indicates that consumers are dividing their time into smaller bursts of activity, since it found that 84.8% of adults read newspapers or magazines, 78.7% listen to the radio, 75% read books and 74.6% listen to recorded music, all on the same weekly basis.

Social networking involved 45% of adults on a weekly basis by mid-2010, and penetration rose to 95% of the under-20s. The remarkable 95% of 16 to 19 year-olds who were 'social networking' by August 2010 is not far off the penetration rate for watching television among the same respondents. While the 95% penetration rate for this age group is striking, the penetration rates for older groups are, perhaps, more so: 50.7% of 35 to 44 year-olds and 37.1% of 45 to 54 year-olds.

There is a slight bias towards women (55% of users) - a bias that is unusual in most technology markets. While online social networking has a 'class' bias, it is not a pronounced one: penetration falls from 59.2% of the As to 42.9% of the Ds.

Perhaps surprisingly, reading is holding its own as a leisure activity in the home. Publishers have generally profited from IT, rather than losing to it. For example, the establishment of the Amazon website created a new retail channel for books, and e-readers are a current source of enthusiasm in book publishing. Key Note's survey illustrates that reading is extremely important as a home leisure activity. Women are more likely than men to read books regularly, but the uptake of written matter is notable across all social grades and age groups. While sales of books have declined gradually in value, the number of books sold has increased or remained steady since 2005. Given previous predictions of the demise of the book, the recession and a rising demand for 'screen' entertainment, this is nothing short of a remarkable achievement.

The growth prospects for the many distinct sectors involved in home-based leisure obviously vary significantly. However, the overall conclusion for the next 5 years is that the in-home leisure market will remain stable in value, at around £40bn each year. Online socialising is likely to increase - and not just on the youth-dominated sites - as it is older consumers who stand to gain the most from the Internet socially, since they spend more time at home and have less impetus to meet face-to-face than the young and single.

Press enquiries: Lisa Ivey at Key Note at or 0845-504 0452. Press/review copies of the report are available on request.

Notes to editors:

* For each edition of this Market Review, Key Note commissions field research among a sample of British adults, to rank the main in-home leisure activities. The latest research, which was conducted in August 2010, repeated similar surveys in 2006 and 2008, all of them involving 1,000 adults aged 16 or over. Respondents were given a list of popular leisure activities and asked: "Which of the following leisure activities do you take part in at least once a week in the home?" An overview of the responses (penetration among all adults) is presented in the Primary Research chapter of the report.

Key Note's 2010 Market Review, Leisure in the Home, examines a wide range of leisure activities that UK residents undertake within their own homes. These activities are divided into the following broad categories: viewing and listening; use of home computers; reading; toys and games; home improvement; and the major indoor hobbies. A companion volume, Leisure Outside the Home, covers out-of-home leisure activities such as holidays, sport, eating out, going to the cinema and all gambling.

Key Note Ltd has been providing commercially relevant market information to libraries, academia and businesses for almost 30 years. With over 1,000 titles available across 30 market sectors, and new or updated titles published every week, Key Note is one of the UK's most prolific and respected business information providers. Within the range, some reports are written in response to particular market conditions, whereas other reports will be produced regularly year on year.

View FREE Executive Summary and Table of Contents for Leisure in the Home