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Scots Turn to Streaming Services as Traditional TV Viewing Declines

Ross Kelly


Streaming services

Traditional TV viewing in Scotland continues to decline, with many opting to use streaming services such as Netflix for TV shows and films. 


More than half of Scotland’s households (56%) now have some form of connected television, according to statistics published in Ofcom’s Media Nations report.

The report, which examines how Brits consume television and entertainment services, has revealed major shifts in the nation’s viewing habits.

Half of all adults surveyed in Scotland claimed to use various types of on-demand services in 2019 – spanning both paid-for and free services.

Among these, Netflix and BBC iPlayer had the most claimed usage among respondents in Scotland, standing at 32% and 28% respectively – these were followed closely by Amazon Prime Video, with 22% of respondents using the video streaming service.

Amazon Prime Video is the only service where usage has increased since 2018, marking an 11% rise in Scotland.

Across the UK, the number of households signed up to the most popular streaming platforms increased from 11.2 million in 2018 to around 13.3 million this year. Many homes also use more than one streaming service now, which brought the total number of UK subscriptions up from 15.6 million to 19.1 million in 2018.

Still glued to the TV?

In Scotland, the average daily viewing minutes for broadcast TV declined by 5.6% between 2017 and 2018; compared to an average of 5.2% across the whole of the UK.

Viewing of non-broadcast services on a TV set, however, increased by eight minutes every day last year to 48 minutes per person, per day.

Although broadcast TV viewing is declining, people in Scotland and Wales still watched the most in the UK throughout 2018. UK-wide, the average stands at around three hours and 12 minutes per day, whereas in Scotland people spent three hours and 33 minutes.

Ofcom attributes the decline in traditional TV viewing to the “changing habits and preferences of viewers” both in Scotland and across the UK. Compared to 2010, average UK viewers now watch 50 minutes less each day.

The biggest shift, Ofcom data shows, is among younger people aged between 16 and 24 years. In the same period, their viewing of traditional television has halved.

Yin-Choung Teh, strategy and research group director at Ofcom, 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 nearly half of British homes.

“But, traditional broadcasters still have a vital role to play, producing the kind of brilliant Uk programmes that overseas tech giants struggle to match.”

The strength of traditional TV, Ofcom data reveals, lies in the content produced by public service broadcasters such as BBC, ITV or Channel 4. Public service broadcasters showed more than than 100 times more original, homegrown shows than overseas streaming platforms in 2018.

While this appears promising for PSB’s and traditional TV, the equivalent of 34 additional series of the BBC’s Bodyguard would need to have been broadcast last year to cancel out the traditional viewing decline – underlining the significant hurdles that still remain.

YouTube’s Popularity Continues to Grow

Daily viewing of streaming services in the UK increased by seven minutes last year to 26 minutes in total. For online video website, YouTube, the numbers also continue to rise.

For the first time, young people now spend more than one hour on YouTube every day, with an average youngster spending 64 minutes viewing content on the platform. This marks a five-minute increase on the year previous.

Two-in-five adults across the UK also said their main way of watching TV and film is via online video services.

“Such is the attraction to online viewing, a similar proportion of people who use subscription streaming services could foresee themselves not watching traditional broadcast television at all in five years’ time,” Ofcom said in a statement.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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