Press release

UK consumers give boost to legal downloading and streaming for TV, films and music

A new survey, published today by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), highlights the latest UK trends in online streaming and downloading.

IPO sign
  • increase of more than 10% in take up of legal services since 2013
  • increase of 6% in online consumption, of both legal and illegal content
  • 1 in 5 still access content illegally

The survey highlighted 62% of internet users in the UK have downloaded or streamed music, TV shows, films, computer software, videogames or e-books. This is up from 56% in 2013. The survey showed that there was a 10% increase in UK consumers accessing content through legal services. One in five consumers still access some content illegally.

The survey was published in parallel with research in Australia and shows that while British and Australian users consumed online media at similar rates, illegal downloading for UK consumers was half the rate of their Australian counterparts.

Key findings from the UK survey show that:


  • 15.6 million UK internet users accessed music online. 12 million users streamed music and 10.5 million users downloaded music. 16-24 year-olds were the most active in music downloads
  • YouTube, Amazon and Spotify were the top platforms used for downloading and streaming with 54 per cent of all music streaming and downloads were accessed via YouTube
  • 26 per cent of users have accessed content illegally


  • 10 million UK internet users have accessed films online
  • Netflix, Amazon and YouTube were the top platforms for film downloads and streaming with Netflix responsible for 44 per cent of all activity
  • 25 per cent of users accessed some content illegally


  • 15 million UK internet users have accessed a TV programme online
  • BBC iPlayer, You Tube and ITV Player were the top platforms for accessing TV programmes online with BBC iPlayer responsible for 62 per cent of activity
  • 21 per cent of users accessed some content illegally

The findings also show that:

  • 5.6 million of UK internet users accessed or downloaded e-books, 5.2 million users accessed or downloaded video games and 5.5 million accessed or downloaded computer software
  • Average quarterly spend on downloading and streaming content ranged from £6.68 for TV programmes to £20.28 for music. The most common reasons given for infringing were because it’s free (49%) and convenient (43%)
  • Respondents said they would be encouraged to stop infringing if there were cheaper legal services (25%) and if everything was available legally (21%)

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville Rolfe:

It’s great news that a huge proportion of UK consumers are going online to enjoy Music, TV Shows, Video Games and e-books legally, supporting our creative industries to grow and showing the benefits of making legal content widely available. By building a clear picture of online streaming and downloading trends we can work with industry and international partners to tackle the problems of internet piracy and increase public awareness of the ways people can download and stream legally.

The Government is taking action to tackle online copyright infringement and has:

  • provided £3.1m of funding for Creative Content UK’s education campaign to educate consumers on how they can download and stream legally
  • through the IPO, provided £5.56m of funding up to 2017 for Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit to tackle copyright infringement
  • consulting on proposals to toughen criminal penalties for large scale commercial copyright infringement
  • working with the European Commission and industry to tackle piracy by finding ways to help make more content available to purchase across borders, while protecting and rewarding creativity

Note to Editors

The UK survey:

  • the UK survey was funded by the IPO was undertaken by Kantar Media
  • they survey was conducted between March and May 2015
  • it is the fifth wave of a large-scale consumer tracking study into the extent of online copyright infringement, as well as wide digital behaviours and attitudes, among people aged 12+ in the UK
  • the UK survey results are available

The Australian survey:

  • the Australian survey was undertaken by Taylor Nelson Sofries (TNS)
  • the survey was conducted between 25 March 2015 and 13 April 2015
  • the Australian survey was tailored to measure online copyright infringement across four core content types: movies, music, television programmes and video games. The UK surveyed six content types, which also included PC software and E-Books
  • a copy of the Australian survey results are available
Published 22 July 2015