TV watching

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%) 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%) do so every week, and more than half (57%) do it monthly. This ability to watch multiple episodes back-to-back is often referred to as ‘binge watching’.

Most binge-watchers (70%) find this type of TV viewing relaxing and enjoyable, but a third (33%) 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%) of adult binge viewers are trying to cut down their TV viewing in some way. This includes rationing their viewing (18%), finding an alternative hobby (8%), but nearly one in ten have cancelled their TV subscription (9%).

Binge viewing has such a strong allure that almost three quarters (72%) 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%), while others found it gave them something to talk about with friends (29%)

Although half (53%) 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%) watch TV in their bedroom, while others tune-in in the kitchen (16%), the garden (6%) or the bathroom (9%).

Many people watch TV outside of their home – while on holiday (23%), while commuting (18%) or in the pub (5%).

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

Nearly half (47%) 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%) said that this happens at least once a week.

Despite this, nearly seven in ten (67%) say that watching TV can bring the whole family together for a shared viewing experience. And more than two in ten (22%) 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%) do this at least once a week.

Live broadcast TV is still central to our TV watching. Half (51%) 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 Finalon 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.”

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