The BBC conducted a massive survey of audiences to decide on broadcasting 4K content

by on January 28, 2015

Stephan Jukic – January 28, 2015

Or you could claim that a whopping 23% are already prepared for 4K, depending on how you look at it.

The BBC has done a massive survey of the TV viewing habits of UK audiences (claiming it to be their biggest survey ever on the subject) in which they focused on screen sizes and viewing distances and the results are in.

The survey was done as part of a still under consideration plan by the public broadcaster to leap into full blown 4K broadcasting and also featured details about the most popular TV technologies, the average age of TVs in UK households and the number of people who added speakers to their TVs among other specific points of interest to the broadcaster.

After finalizing their varied survey, the BBC has come to a number of conclusions and discovered some interesting things.

For starters, the company claims that 10% of UK viewers would significantly benefit from “better than HD” quality content based on their current overall viewing habits. This percentage rises to 22.9% if people were to actually buy TVs in the size they claim to desire (quite a bit larger than average).

The above assumptions on percentage happen to be based on the BBC’s own minimum necessary viewing distance of 3x the height of a viewer’s screen for benefiting from HD resolution and 1.5 times the screens height for enjoying the benefits of viewing in 4K ultra HD.

The results of the BBC’s survey were collected between August and October of 2014 and are the first results gathered from a survey like this in exactly a decade. Of the 2633 respondents who participated, roughly 2185, or 90.4%, actually owned a TV.

Other survey findings included that average screen size among UK audiences is about 39.3 inches and that median viewing distance from a TV was about 2.63 meters. Also, the survey results indicated that screen sizes have increased from the last survey, when the average hung at around 26 inches. Viewing distances on the other hand have stayed about the same.

Most crucial to the BBC’s 4K broadcasting plans was the question of what TV size people were most interested in acquiring next. Half of the respondents claimed that they wanted a larger TV and 39.9% claimed they were happy to continue with the same size of screen as what they had now. Also, the most in-demand screen size for future TV purchases is 49 inches, which nicely mirrors the average size of most 4K TVs currently sold on the worldwide market.

when it comes to 4K TVs bigger screens are better for appreciating the higher resolution

when it comes to 4K TVs bigger screens are better for appreciating the higher resolution

As far as 4K goes, larger is certainly better and while there is a notable improvement over HD in 50 inch or smaller 4K sets, the real benefits of ultra HD are much better appreciated by those who view the resolution on a TV with a screen of 55 or more inches.

The BBC will hopefully use the results of their survey to move into 4K broadcasting sooner instead of later, given how much more affordable the new type of TV is becoming and given the trend towards larger average screen sizes.

The broadcaster itself hasn’t made any firm statements to this effect but has claimed that “these results will be used to help plan future services”. This can be taken as a thinly disguised reference to their deciding to move into 4K UHD broadcast content.

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