You are weird, and 17 other things we learned from Ofcom's Communications Market Report

You oddball. Yes, you.

We are getting more and more connnected

But almost more interesting are the trends which have turned around. Digital radio take-up has declined in recent years, MP3 player usage has flatlined, and mobile broadband is less used than it has ever been since Ofcom started tracking it. At least some of that is likely to be cannibalisation by smartphones, which can do all of that and more. And sure enough, "internet on mobile" is the fastest growing category on either of these tables.

No one wants to give up TV

When people are asked the one activity which they couldn't give up, watching TV is still number one by a huge margin. But using mobiles is steadily becoming more and more of a necessity — and no wonder, because they can do almost all the rest and more.

Because we all watch it all the time

We're actually spending more time in front of the TV than we did five years ago, and slightly less time using the internet on computers. We've doubled the amount of time on a mobile, but from such a tiny base, there's a lot more to go.

Media "stacking" and media "meshing" are things

This is basically OFCOM splitting the commonly accepted definition of "second screening"—literally using a second screen while you watch TV—into two different things. Media meshing is doing something related to what you're watching on telly, while media stacking is doing something completely different. Meshing is what the broadcasters want you to do, since it increases the value to advertisers and allows them to demonstrate how engaged you are with their content. Stacking is what you actually are doing, though. More than half of us have done something else while watching TV. Young people do both more, but the difference is stark when it comes to meshing. 

Tablets get shared around

If you're the only person who uses your tablet, you're in the minority. Two thirds of them are used by someone else, normally partners or children.

You are weird

Only 32 per cent of the UK get their news from the internet. You—yes, you, dear reader—are an odd minority.

That said, this figure is self-reported, and it shows. The thought that 79 per cent of the country doesn't "use" word of mouth for news is faintly ridiculous. So it may be the case that people actually do use websites for news, but just don't think of it because it's part of a larger process of general newsgathering.

Even so, it's clear that TV rules the roost. And not even the rolling news channels, just good, old-fashioned BBC One. Remember that, next time you wonder why Ed Miliband is prepared to sound like a robot to get his talking point on the 6 O'clock News.

YouTube isn't as popular as it seems

Slightly over half of Britain admitted to "regularly" viewing video clips. Again, it may be a reporting error, but it's far lower than regular visitors of the New Statesman website may expect.

No-one uses their DVR

Two thirds of Britain has the ability to time-shift their viewing of TV, thanks to services like Sky+; but only a tenth of the country actually does it. 

The five-channel model of TV is out of date

Almost every home now watches at least 15 minutes of TV on a channel other than the big five once a week, and nearly 50 per cent of our watching time is spent on these other channels. The big losers have been BBC One and ITV, which no longer command anywhere near the share they did in the 1980s.

Men like sports, women like "living"

BBC One is the channel with the best male/female balance, while some channels have an unusally gendered audience: News is blokey, apparently, while all the ITV channels except the deliberately male-focused ITV4 have strong female audiences.

A fun quirk, that CBBC apparently has a "younger" audience than Cbeebies, is probably due to the fact that parents are more likely to watch TV with their toddlers than with older children. That would also explain the gender balance for those channels, since stay-at-home parents are overwhelmingly women.

Spotify is boss

But there's still room for more book clubs in the market, at least.

Rich people have more devices

Not particularly surprising, maybe; but there are a couple of quirks in the data. The most interesting is the flat graph for games consoles, which supports anecdotal evidence that these all-in-one entertainment boxes are a favourite of poorer families. The PS3, for instance, is also one of the cheapest internet-enabled devices on the market.

People who don't have the internet don't want the internet

A lot of ink is spilled on the "digital divide"—the damage caused by being offline in this day and age—but by far the most common reason given for not having the internet is a lack of interest. Just under a quarter can't afford it, and at least eight per cent of them wouldn't want one even if they could.

Amazon has taken ebay's crown

Meanwhile, the legacy retailers are far less popular.

Texting is dying

Landlines got more expensive last year, even though we used them less

On average, we made fewer calls, but paid more for the whole thing. "NTS" calls refer to phone calls to 08 numbers.

The 18 month mobile phone contract is no more

In boosting us all onto 24 month contracts, the carriers get an extra six months of locking us into the stupidly high fees we invariably accept for the latest mobiles. Stupid us.

Spare a thought for poor Royal Mail

The surprising thing about this is how long it took. The internet's been killing post for decades, yet we still sent well over twice the letters in 2007 as we do now. Well, unless you are under 35; then you've never used the post.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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The decline of the north's sporting powerhouse

Yorkshire historically acted as a counterweight to the dominance of southern elites, in sport as in politics and culture. Now, things are different.

On a drive between Sheffield and Barnsley, I spotted a striking painting of the Kes poster. Billy Casper’s two-fingered salute covered the wall of a once-popular pub that is now boarded up.

It is almost 50 years since the late Barry Hines wrote A Kestrel for a Knave, the novel that inspired Ken Loach’s 1969 film, and it seems that the defiant, us-against-the-world, stick-it-to-the-man Yorkshireness he commemorated still resonates here. Almost two-thirds of the people of south Yorkshire voted to leave the EU, flicking two fingers up at what they saw as a London-based establishment, detached from life beyond the capital.

But whatever happened to Billy the unlikely lad, and the myriad other northern characters who were once the stars of stage and screen? Like the pitheads that dominated Casper’s tightly knit neighbourhood, they have disappeared from the landscape. The rot set in during the 1980s, when industries were destroyed and communities collapsed, a point eloquently made in Melvyn Bragg’s excellent radio series The Matter of the North.

Yorkshire historically acted as a counterweight to the dominance of southern elites, in sport as in politics and culture. Yet today, we rarely get to hear the voices of Barnsley, Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham. And the Yorkshire sporting powerhouse is no more – at least, not as we once knew it.

This should be a matter of national concern. The White Rose county is, after all, the home of the world’s oldest registered football club – Sheffield FC, formed in 1857 – and the first English team to win three successive League titles, Huddersfield Town, in the mid-1920s. Hull City are now Yorkshire’s lone representative in the Premier League.

Howard Wilkinson, the manager of Leeds United when they were crowned champions in 1992, the season before the Premier League was founded, lamented the passing of a less money-obsessed era. “My dad worked at Orgreave,” he said, “the scene of Mrs Thatcher’s greatest hour, bless her. You paid for putting an axe through what is a very strong culture of community and joint responsibility.”

The best-known scene in Loach’s film shows a football match in which Mr Sugden, the PE teacher, played by Brian Glover, comically assumes the role of Bobby Charlton. It was played out on the muddy school fields of Barnsley’s run-down Athersley estate. On a visit to his alma mater a few years ago, David Bradley, who played the scrawny 15-year-old Billy, showed me the goalposts that he had swung from as a reluctant goalkeeper. “You can still see the dint in the crossbar,” he said. When I spoke to him recently, Bradley enthused about his lifelong support for Barnsley FC. “But I’ve not been to the ground over the last season and a half,” he said. “I can’t afford it.”

Bradley is not alone. Many long-standing fans have been priced out. Barnsley is only a Championship side, but for their home encounter with Newcastle last October, their fans had to pay £30 for a ticket.

The English game is rooted in the northern, working-class communities that have borne the brunt of austerity over the past six years. The top leagues – like the EU – are perceived to be out of touch and skewed in favour of the moneyed elites.

Bradley, an ardent Remainer, despaired after the Brexit vote. “They did not know what they were doing. But I can understand why. There’s still a lot of neglect, a lot of deprivation in parts of Barnsley. They feel left behind because they have been left behind.”

It is true that there has been a feel-good factor in Yorkshire following the Rio Olympics; if the county were a country, it would have finished 17th in the international medals table. Yet while millions have been invested in “podium-level athletes”, in the team games that are most relevant to the lives of most Yorkshire folk – football, cricket and rugby league – there is a clear division between sport’s elites and its grass roots. While lucrative TV deals have enriched ruling bodies and top clubs, there has been a large decrease in the number of adults playing any sport in the four years since London staged the Games.

According to figures from Sport England, there are now 67,000 fewer people in Yorkshire involved in sport than there were in 2012. In Doncaster, to take a typical post-industrial White Rose town, there has been a 13 per cent drop in participation – compared with a 0.4 per cent decline nationally.

Attendances at rugby league, the region’s “national sport”, are falling. But cricket, in theory, is thriving, with Yorkshire winning the County Championship in 2014 and 2015. Yet Joe Root, the batsman and poster boy for this renaissance, plays far more games for his country than for his county and was rested from Yorkshire’s 2016 title decider against Middlesex.

“Root’s almost not a Yorkshire player nowadays,” said Stuart Rayner, whose book The War of the White Roses chronicles the club’s fortunes between 1968 and 1986. As a fan back then, I frequently watched Geoffrey Boycott and other local stars at Headingley. My favourite was the England bowler Chris Old, a gritty, defiant, unsung anti-hero in the Billy Casper mould.

When Old made his debut, 13 of the 17-strong Yorkshire squad were registered as working-class professionals. Half a century later, three of the five Yorkshiremen selec­ted for the last Ashes series – Root, Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance – were privately educated. “The game of cricket now is played in public schools,” Old told me. “Top players are getting huge amounts of money, but the grass-roots game doesn’t seem to have benefited in any way.”

“In ten years’ time you won’t get a Joe Root,” Rayner said. “If you haven’t seen these top Yorkshire cricketers playing in your backyard and you haven’t got Sky, it will be difficult to get the whole cricket bug. So where is the next generation of Roots going to come from?” Or the next generation of Jessica Ennis-Hills? Three years ago, the Sheffield stadium where she trained and first discovered athletics was closed after cuts to local services.

This article first appeared in the 19 January 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump era