Recent Ofcom research highlights that a growing number of younger viewers are watching non-live catch-up services instead of "live" broadcast television programmes.
A TV licence is only needed for those properties where equipment is used to receive TV programmes at the same time they are broadcast on a normal TV channel. A TV licence is not required to watch previously shown programmes on non-live catch-up services like the BBC's iPlayer.
The research, published as part of Ofcom's eleventh Communications Market Report, measures confidence and knowledge of communications technology to calculate an individual's Digital Quotient (DQ) score with the average UK adult scoring 100 (take Ofcom's DQ taster test).
The study, among nearly 2,000 adults and 800 children, finds that 6-year-olds claim to have the same understanding of communications technology as 45-year-olds. Also, more than 60% of people aged 55 and over have a below average DQ score. Average DQ scores by age group as shown in the clickable graphic below:
It shows that we hit our peak confidence and understanding of digital communications and technology when we are in our mid-teens; this drops gradually up to our late 50s and then falls rapidly from 60 and beyond.
Worryingly, from a BBC TV Licensing point of view, is that the next generation of licence-fee-payers spend less than half their viewing time watching licensable live broadcast TV programmes. An increasing number of younger viewers are turning to DVDs, online catch-up services and downloadable programmes, none of which require payment of the £145.50 a year TV licence fee. Furthermore, only 3% of the 16 to 24-year-olds surveyed said they would miss watching live broadcast TV programmes, compared to almost a third of those aged 65 and over.
A BBC spokesman told the Daily Mail: "As the data shows young people still spend two thirds of their viewing time watching live or recorded TV which needs to be covered by a TV licence. Well under two per cent of households watch only catch-up TV".
In characteristic BBC fashion, he's actually being misleading in that statement: Recording live broadcast TV programmes requires a TV licence; watching them does not.