Media release: Scotland’s changing TV landscape


Seven in ten Scots watch multiple episodes back-to-back

New technology is changing when, where and how we watch TV 

But live TV remains central to our TV-watching

OFCOM research reveals that TV watching in Scotland is changing, with seven in ten now watching multiple episodes of their favourite shows in a single sitting.

The finding is part of Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report, Scotland 2017, which this year reveals the changing landscape in Scottish television habits.

Nearly three-quarters of adults in Scotland (74 per cent) are using technology such as catch-up or subscription services to watch multiple episodes of a series at once, wiping out the wait for next week’s instalment.

Around four in ten (38 per cent) do so every week, and more than half (57 per cent) do it monthly. This ability to watch multiple episodes back-to-back is often referred to as ‘binge watching’.

Most binge-watchers (70 per cent) find this type of TV viewing relaxing and enjoyable, but a third (33 per cent) of adults admit the temptation to watch another episode has cost them sleep and left them feeling tired.

Perhaps as a result, more than a third (40 per cent) of adult binge viewers are trying to cut down their TV viewing in some way. This includes rationing their viewing (18 per cent), finding an alternative hobby (eight per cent), but nearly one in ten have cancelled their TV subscription (nine per cent).

Binge viewing has such a strong allure that almost three quarters (72 per cent) of monthly bingers said they sometimes hadn’t intended to do it, but the pull of the next episode kept them tuned in.

Spoiler alert!

Many people’s desire to keep up with programmes is driven by fear of someone spoiling a programme’s ending (20 per cent), while others found it gave them something to talk about with friends (29 per cent)

Although half (53 per cent) of Scottish viewers like the freedom of being able to watch whenever, wherever they like, viewing at home is still popular. Just under a half of people (46 per cent) watch TV in their bedroom, while others tune-in in the kitchen (16 per cent), the garden (six per cent) or the bathroom (nine per cent).

Many people watch TV outside of their home – while on holiday (23 per cent), while commuting (18 per cent) or in the pub (five per cent).

For many, watching TV is a solo activity. Six in ten (59 per cent) subscribers to on-demand and streaming services in Scotland said they use it for ‘alone time’.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of people in Scotland said they watched content alone every day. Individual viewing sometimes happens in the same room as other household members, with each person watching content on different devices. A third (34 per cent) said that this happens at least once a week.

Despite this, nearly seven in ten (67 per cent) say that watching TV can bring the whole family together for a shared viewing experience. And more than two in ten (22 per cent) adults in Scotland say they sit with family to watch the same TV programme or film on the same device every day, while more than six in ten (63 per cent) do this at least once a week.

Live broadcast TV is still central to our TV watching. Half (51 per cent) of people in Scotland said that if they wanted to watch TV, they would first “switch on the TV and see what’s airing on live broadcast TV”.

Last year, Andy Murray’s victory in the Wimbledon 2016 Men’s Singles final on BBC One was the most-watched programme at the time of broadcast among adults in Scotland.

Glenn Preston, Ofcom’s Scotland director, said: “Technology has revolutionised the way we watch TV. Gone are the days of waiting a week for the next episode. Now people find it hard to resist watching multiple episodes around the house or on the move.

“But it’s important to recognise that live television still has a special draw, and has the power to bring the whole family together in a common experience.”



Alan Stewart

Regulatory Affairs manager, Ofcom Scotland

0131 220 7303,

Jonathan Ruff

Regulatory Affairs manager, Ofcom Scotland

0131 220 7302,

The wider communications market in Scotland


* Three of the top 20 programmes in Scotland in 2106 were shown only in Scotland. Still Game, BBC One’s comedy series filmed in Scotland, was the most popular TV programme in Scotland in 2016, drawing almost 1.8 million viewers. Second to this was Only An Excuse, eighth was Hogmanay Live and the England vs. Scotland World Cup qualifier was 19th.

* BBC One and STV’s early evening local news bulletins attracted a greater share in Scotland than the UK average for the same weekday time slot. Reporting Scotland (BBC One) drew an average of 30.7 per cent of all TV viewers in Scotland between 6.30pm and 7.00pm in 2016. STV News at Six attracted a lower share (25.6 per cent) than Reporting Scotland, though it was still higher than the Channel 3 UK average share (19.6 per cent) in the same time slot.

* On average, people in Scotland spend an average of 3 hours 56 minutes per day watching television, slightly more than the UK average of 3 hours 32 minutes.

* BBC, ITV Border Scotland and STV’s spending on first-run originated content for viewers in Scotland increased by £2m in real terms from 2015 to £57m in 2016. However, this was a fall of £1m in real terms compared to 2011.

* Scotland’s first-run originated output fell by 21 per cent from 2015 to 486 hours in 2016, the highest proportional decrease of all the UK nations. A large proportion of this fall was in the Channel 3 licence holders’ non-news/non-current affairs programmes

* BBC Alba spending increased by 19 per cent overall in real terms, with £16.4m spent on total programme output in 2016. Since 2015, spending on non-news and non-current affairs programmes increased by 21 per cent in real terms, while spending on current affairs almost doubled, rising by 91 per cent.


* Take-up of some communications services is lower in Scotland than the UK average. Adults in Scotland are less likely than the UK average to own a mobile phone, smartphone, any type of computer, have any type of internet connection, broadband connection or fixed broadband connection. There were no significant differences in take-up between rural and urban locations in Scotland in 2017.

* Fixed broadband users in urban Scotland were more likely than rural users to say they were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ satisfied with their overall service (85 per cent vs. 68 per cent) and the speed of their connection (82 per cent vs. 67 per cent). Users in rural areas were more likely than those in urban areas to be ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ dissatisfied with their overall broadband service (16 per cent vs. five per cent) and broadband speeds (24 per cent vs. six per cent).

* About nine in ten (87 per cent) mobile phone users in Scotland were ‘very or fairly’ satisfied with their mobile reception in 2017, in line with the UK average (86 per cent) and unchanged since 2016.

* Mobile phone users in urban areas of Scotland were more likely than those in rural areas to say they were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ satisfied with their mobile reception (91 per cent vs. 70 per cent), while users in rural areas of Scotland were more likely to say they were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ dissatisfied (17 per cent vs. four per cent).

* Eighty-one percent of adults in the City of Glasgow had fixed-line internet access at home in 2016, and 88 per cent had access at home via a fixed line and/or a mobile phone. Take-up of fixed broadband services in Glasgow is now consistent with that of the UK as a whole, whereas in 2013 just 50 per cent of homes in Glasgow had a fixed internet connection.


* Almost nine in ten people (87.1 per cent) in Scotland listen to the radio at least once a week – lower than the UK average (89.6 per cent), and the lowest proportion of all the individual nations.

* On average, people in Scotland listen for 20 hours 36 minutes each week. Commercial stations accounted for 53 per cent of listening hours in Scotland in 2017. Most commercial listening in Scotland is to local commercial stations, which account for 37 per cent of total listening hours.

* The weekly reach of BBC Radio Scotland was 20 per cent, five percentage points higher than the aggregate reach for BBC local services in England and six percentage points higher than BBC Radio Wales. Although reach has dropped slightly since 2016, the average listening hours are at their highest level since 2008 (7 hours 8 minutes).

* More than half of homes (53 per cent) had a DAB radio, up two percentage points in a year. 42 per cent of radio listening is via digital platforms, up 0.9 percentage points on last year.

* There are now 87 stations broadcasting on DAB in Scotland, though not all are currently accessible throughout Scotland. There are also 74 analogue stations available across Scotland.

* Per-capita local commercial radio revenues continue to be highest in Scotland (£7.93) compared to the other nations. BBC spend on content for BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal fell by ten per cent in real terms, to £4.59.


* In 2017, 77 per cent of households in Scotland had access to the internet via a fixed broadband and/or mobile phone.

* Four in ten (41 per cent) internet users in Scotland regard their smartphones as their most important device for getting online.

* Seven in ten adults (70 per cent) personally use a smartphone. This is lower than the UK overall figure (76 per cent). Almost six in ten households in Scotland own a tablet (56 per cent), in line with the UK average.


* On average, people in Scotland send three invitations/greeting cards/postcards items through the post in a typical month.

* In line with the UK average (81 per cent), more than four in five adults (84 per cent) in Scotland spend less than £20 on postage in the previous month. One in five (22 per cent) had spent less than £1, which is higher than the UK overall (18 per cent).

* More than six in ten adults (65 per cent) in Scotland are using more email instead of post compared to two years ago. 48 per cent of people in Scotland are sending fewer payments for bills, invoices and statements by post than two years ago.

* Overall satisfaction with Royal Mail is 82 per cent in Scotland, in line with the UK overall (83 per cent).

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Contact: Alan Stewart