The Media in Figures: Smartphone use, TV production, etc in Scotland

SMARTPHONES are now the most popular device for getting online in Scotland – according to broadcasting regulators, Ofcom.

Reveals Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report for Scotland, nearly four in ten (37 per cent) internet users in Scotland cite smartphones as the most important device for accessing the internet in Scotland, compared to 26 per cent for their laptop.

Adds the regulator: since 2014, smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most important device in Scotland for internet access. In that year, 45 per cent rated the laptop as most important, compared to 21 per cent for the smartphone.

Half of internet users aged 16-34 (50 per cent) and almost half (45 per cent) aged 35-54 say a smartphone is the most important device for going online.

Smartphone ownership in Scotland increased slightly by one percentage point since 2014, with about six in ten adults owning one (63 per cent) compared to the UK average of 66 per cent.

Says Ofcom: “However, take-up of a 4G service among smartphone owners has risen by 25 percentage points between 2014 and 2015 to reach 55 per cent, significantly higher than the UK average of 45 per cent.

“4G networks are still being rolled out, and Ofcom rules mean that at least one 4G network must provide coverage to at least 95 per cent of the population of each of the UK nations by the end of 2017 at the latest.

“The report also shows that, in the first quarter of 2015, almost nine in ten (89 per cent) smartphone users in Scotland were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ satisfied with their mobile network for connecting to the internet via 3G or 4G. This was higher among smartphone users in urban Scotland (92 per cent) than in rural Scotland (73 per cent).

“The other device seeing a marked increase in take-up is the tablet computer. Half of adults in Scotland (52 per cent) said they had one in the household, a ten percentage-point increase since 2014 (42 per cent).”

Other findings include:

* The report shows people in Scotland are less likely to watch content on TV at the time it is transmitted, as catch-up viewing becomes increasingly popular. Fewer people undertook traditional TV viewing in 2015 compared to the previous year in Scotland: seven per cent of respondents said they were doing this more, but 41 per cent said they were doing so less, resulting in a net change of -34 per cent.

* There was a net gain of 36 per cent for watching non-subscription catch-up (e.g. iPlayer), and 24 per cent for watching content that had been personally recorded.

* Spending by the BBC and STV on programmes specifically for Scottish viewers increased by 29 per cent from 2013 to reach £68.6m in 2014. This was considerably higher than the eight per cent average increase in spending over the same period on programmes for the nations and regions across the UK. Ofcom attributes the main reasons as coverage of exceptional events: the XX Commonwealth Games and the Scottish Independence Referendum.

* The number of TV hours produced specifically for viewers in Scotland has increased by 57 per cent since 2009, to 2,573 hours in 2014. This was the highest increase across the four UK nations over this period.

* The report shows 73 per cent of households in Scotland now have access to fixed and mobile broadband at home, and 59 per cent of adults have online access through a mobile phone.

* Take-up of fixed broadband in Glasgow continues to be lower than the UK average. It comes in at 62 per cent compared to the UK figure of 78 per cent. Overall internet access in Glasgow increased to 75 per cent, up from 66 per cent in the same Glasgow analysis last year when web-enabled mobile devices are included.

* Two-thirds (68 per cent) of internet users in Scotland agree that ‘technology has changed the way they communicate’, and three fifths (58 per cent) agree that new communication methods have ‘made their life easier’.

* Around half of all adults online in Scotland (53 per cent) agree that ‘being online interrupts face-to-face conversations with friends and family’.

* Text messaging (73 per cent) and email communications (73 per cent) are the top two most common methods of contact on a weekly basis. However, meeting face to face (61 per cent) and making voice calls (60 per cent) are also used by a majority, alongside social media (60 per cent). Instant messaging (50 per cent) is also used by half of online adults in Scotland.

* The report shows the overall preferred method of communication for people in Scotland is meeting people face to face – 69 per cent preferring it for family and 66 per cent for friends. This preference is consistent across all of the UK nations.

* Over one in five people in Scotland are ‘hooked’ on social media. Ofcom asked people to indicate a number on a scale ranging from one to ten, with ten per cent indicating they were completely hooked. Overall, just over one in five adults (23 per cent) in Scotland indicated a rating of between seven and ten.

* Nearly half (46 per cent) of Scots who take digital photos say they share their photos using social media. Many of these are likely to be ‘selfies’. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of Scots, say they have ever taken a selfie, and eight per cent say they take selfies at least once a week.

And other findings include:

* Scottish productions accounted for 5.2 per cent of spending on original TV network programming, down from 5.9 per cent in the previous year, but 0.6 per cent up from 2010.

* The proportion of first-run hours produced in Scotland dropped 0.9 per cent from the previous year to 7.5 per cent in 2014. However, this is an increase of 2.9 percentage points since 2010.

* People in Scotland spend more time than the UK average listening to commercial stations. Commercial stations accounted for almost half (48 per cent) of all listening hours in Scotland in 2014. This is five per cent higher than the UK average and the highest share for commercial radio across the UK nations.

* In 2014, revenue per head of population increased by 18 pence to £8.02. This is the highest among all of the UK nations. The total revenue generated by the local commercial radio sector in Scotland was £42.7m, a 2.3 per cent increase on 2013.

* Seventy-three per cent of premises in Scotland were able to receive superfast broadband services in June 2015. This was the lowest proportion among the UK nations.

* Take-up of household fixed broadband is lower in Scotland than for the UK as a whole. Across the UK as a whole, 78 per cent of homes had a fixed broadband connection of some description in Q1 2015, compared to 71 per cent in Scotland.

NB. The spending figure above for BBC and STV on programmes specifically for Scottish viewers (£68.6m) excludes spend on BBC ALBA for comparison purposes. £14.7m was spent on programming output on BBC ALBA in 2014.

SourceCommunications Market Report (Scotland) 2015, published by Ofcom, August 6 2015.