LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britons have been watching almost 2-1/2 hours more television a week this year as cash-strapped people stay at home more -- and because there's more to watch, figures showed on Tuesday.
Official statistics from The Broadcasters' Audience Research Board's updated measurement panel (BARB) showed Britons watched 30 hours and 4 minutes of TV a week during the first three months, or more than four hours a day.
The increase was attributed to greater choice, with 94 percent of households now accessing digital TV; a rise in on-demand services which allow people to watch programs they have missed; and the economic recession.
"Anyone who doubted the continuing importance and popularity of broadcast TV in the UK should hopefully be convinced by these new figures," said Tess Alps, chief executive of Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in Britain.
"However, record levels are unlikely to continue. We are nearing the peak, if we are not there already. Once analog signals are finally turned off in 2012, the figures are likely to stabilize, but hopefully will remain at these high levels."
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison