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World Cup helped boost TV viewing hours: BARB research

Football from South Africa keeps British in front of the box for two hours a week longer than usual

The World Cup helped increase the number of hours people spent watching TV during the first six months of this year, according to research from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB).

The figures for January-June - published by Thinkbox, a marketing body that works on behalf of commercial TV - show that people watched an average of 28 hours and 15 minutes a week of broadcast television compared to 26 hours and 13 minutes during the same period in 2009.

TV viewing of commercial channels accounted for 62 per cent of total viewing during the period.

Alongside the World Cup, the increase in time spent in front of the TV has been attributed to greater choice of channels and the switch to digital. Digital technology has especially helped viewers to record shows and watch them later. Such viewing constituted 7.1 per cent of all the television watched in the UK.

"We know that technology is making TV ever more attractive and we should never underestimate the fundamental importance of compelling content," said Thinkbox's chief executive Tess Alps.