SCOTS watched more TV news as lockdown began than any other UK nation, new figures reveal.

“Demand for the latest news on the pandemic” drove average daily consumption of broadcast TV to almost four and a half hours at the end of March, according to Ofcom, as people sought the latest information about the crisis and control measures.

A new report released today by the watchdog shows this is the highest level in the UK.

The Media Nations: Scotland 2020 paper shows TV news programming reached an average of 74% of Scots each week in March, with the level dropping to 69% by June. More than seven in 10 online adults used the BBC’s TV, radio and online services to stay informed, making it the most popular news source.

STV was the most popular alternative – six in 10 online adults used non-BBC services during the first four weeks of lockdown, reducing to around 50% by mid-June.

The audience share held by the five public service broadcasters – the BBC, STV, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – grew to 59% in March, up 2% from February but fell again to 55% by June as disruption to sporting events, entertainment shows and soaps hit schedules.

Ofcom said the outlook for the commercial channels is “especially tough” as they “manage cost-cutting measures amid financial uncertainty”. Their cumulative revenues declined by 3.5% in 2019 to £2.2 billion. This year TV advertising revenues are expected to fall by a much larger 17-19%.

Meanwhile, appetites for streaming services have continued to increase. During April Scots spent 40 hours a week watching broadcast TV, online video content and gaming – a rise of a third on last year, with the use of on-demand video services like Netflix and YouTube doubling.

Ofcom Scotland director Glenn Preston said: “While following advice to stay indoors during peak lockdown, people in Scotland relied on the TV to keep informed and entertained, from the First Minister’s daily updates to escapist content like Tiger King on Netflix.

“The pandemic showed public service broadcasting at its best, but UK broadcasters face a tough advertising market, production challenges and financial uncertainty. They need to keep demonstrating that value in the face of intense competition from streaming services.”