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Scotland on the Box

4th August 2017

Scotland and the television have a long history. It was a Scot, John Logie Baird, who first pioneered the ‘gogglebox’.  Another Scot, John Reith, forged Britain’s current broadcasting culture as the first Director General of the BBC. And the TV has been a saviour to many parents across the country on those long, wet, summer holidays.

The television industry has faced some severe challenges over the past decade, including an advertising slump in 2008, the shift to digital and streaming technologies, and the need for ‘traditional’ broadcasters to compete for viewers’ attention, with an ever growing number of other entertainment distractions.

Although a report released earlier this week by Ofcom shows that television is still central to the country’s media habits, especially with regards to where Scots get their news, habits are changing. The report is long (or joyously detailed, depending on your point of view) but it throws up some interesting facts and figures about how Scots consume their media:

Live broadcast TV is still central to our TV-watching habits

While people are changing the way they view, by switching to different services for different needs, and to fit around their lives, traditional live broadcast TV is still at the heart of the viewing experience.

On-demand and streaming is on the increase while the overall amount of TV consumed is decreasing

The amount of time spent watching live TV each day has fallen 47 minutes between 2010 and 2016, to 3 hours and 46 minutes per adult. But the time spent watching paid on-demand TV (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) over the same period has increased by 20 minutes to 62 minutes and time spent watching free on-demand TV (BBC iPlayer, All4, etc.) has decreased from 33 minutes to 26 minutes – a worrying sign for traditional broadcasters.

TV is the main source of news for more than six in ten adults in Scotland

More than six in ten (63%) adults aged 16 and over said that TV was their main source of UK and world news. Websites or apps were cited by 17% as the main source, radio by 10% and print newspapers by 5%.

BBC One’s and STV’s early evening local news bulletins attracted a greater share in Scotland than the UK average for the same weekday time slot

BBC One’s Reporting Scotland drew on average 30.7% of all TV viewers in Scotland between 6.30pm and 7.00pm in 2016. STV News at Six attracted a lower share at 25.6%, although it was still higher than the UK average share (19.6%) in the same time slot.

And finally…Still Game was the most watched show in Scotland last year

With 1,798,000 viewers – or 64% of the available audience at the time – the revived comedy had more viewers than any other programme. Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win had a higher share (68.4%) but lower overall number (1,276,000).

So, almost 100 years after it was first invented, Scotland’s love affair with the television lives on. But what for the future? Frustratingly, the report doesn’t include any demographic breakdowns, which may well have exposed trouble down the line for both traditional broadcasters and the TV industry as a whole.

But one thing is clear – for the moment, we still love our telly!