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Changing habits

Television declines as more viewers turn on to streaming services

Laura Kuenssberg BBC

BBC remains a key source of news

More than half of homes in Scotland now subscribe to TV streaming services, according to a major Ofcom report revealing rapid shifts in viewing habits.

The number of households in Scotland signed up to at least one of the main UK subscription streaming platforms – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and Disney Life – increased from 1.13m (46%) in 2018 to 1.30m (52%) in 2019. As with the rest of the UK, Netflix is the most popular with more than 46% of homes in Scotland now signed up. 

Traditional TV viewing is in decline although it still accounts for most TV screen time in Scotland (82%) and remains the most popular place for people to keep up with the latest news..

In 2018, viewers spent an average of three hours 33 minutes per day watching broadcast television – down by 13 minutes since 2017 (-5.6%) and nearly an hour less (-21%) than in 2010.

However, viewing to other services on the TV – such as streaming or gaming – increased by eight minutes to an average of 48 minutes per person per day in 2018.

The findings are from Ofcom’s Media Nations: Scotland report, a comprehensive study of major trends in television, radio and audio, published today.

For the first time, young people spend more than an hour a day on YouTube, and adults watch around half an hour of YouTube a day.

Despite the increasing popularity of online services, television remains the most-used platform for news in Scotland. Television channels make up five of the top ten most-used news sources in 2019, with BBC One and STV the most popular overall.

Social media sites are also highly used for news in Scotland; a third (34%) of people now say they use Facebook for news, while eight of the top 20 most-watched programmes in Scotland in 2018 were live sport events.

Top 20 sources of news in general in Scotland

Glenn Preston, Ofcom’s Scotland Director, said: “The way we watch TV is changing faster than ever before.  In the space of seven years, streaming services have grown from nothing to reach over half of Scottish homes. 

“But traditional broadcasters, who produce brilliant Scottish and UK programmes, still have a vital role to play.  We want to sustain that content for future generations, so we’re leading a nationwide debate on the future of public service broadcasting”.

Other findings from the report include:

  • The second episode of the eighth and penultimate series of Still Game on BBC One Scotland was the most-watched broadcast programme on TV sets in Scotland in 2018. This episode achieved an average audience of 1,373,000 and a share of 56% of those watching TV at that time.
  • More than half (54%) of all broadcast TV viewing was to the main five PSB channels in 2018 – BBC One, BBC Two, STV/ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Their collective share of viewing in Scotland was greater than any other UK nation.
  • It was a landmark year for radio, with digital listening accounting for over half of all radio listening for the first time (55% in Q1 2019).
  • The use of smart speakers is increasing in the home. A fifth (21%) of households in Scotland own a smart speaker – up from 12% in 2018.

·       While BBC Radio 2 remains the most popular radio station in Scotland, attracting the most listeners of any individual station, commercial services such as Heart and Forth 1 account for more than half of all radio listening hours across the country.

Most watched programmes in Scotland in 2018



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