Northern Ireland viewers watch less TV than UK average

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

image copyrightReuters
image captionNetflix is the most popular streaming service in Northern Ireland

People in Northern Ireland watch less TV on average than those in other parts of the UK, according to Ofcom.

The decline in TV viewing is particularly acute among those aged 34 or younger, who watch fewer than two hours a day on average.

However, more than half of adults (55%) in Northern Ireland use on-demand video streaming services.

Almost three in 10, for instance, use Netflix making it the most popular streaming service in Northern Ireland.

Ofcom's Northern Ireland report has been published as part of a series of reports across the UK.

Big decline in younger viewers

It suggests that younger viewers are driving the decline in broadcast TV viewing.

While viewing among the over 55s has remained stable, it has declined by 48% among those aged 4-34 since 2010.

For example those aged from 16 to 34 watch 1 hour 51 minutes of broadcast TV per day on average, Ofcom found.

However, as in the rest of the UK, people in Northern Ireland are spending more time watching streaming services or gaming via their TV set.

Sky is the most popular pay TV service, with subscriptions in just over a third (33.7%) of Northern Irish households.

However, the report notes that Ofcom could not collect data directly from on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, so had to rely on third party sources for information on those services.

It also reveals that the Irish language broadcast fund paid out £2.7m for programmes in 2017-18, the bulk to the BBC and TG4.

The Ulster-Scots broadcast fund, meanwhile, paid out £1.6m for programmes, more than three-quarters to the BBC.

image copyrightPacemaker
image captionThe BBC said the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly has led to a fall in political TV programmes.

Meanwhile, an episode of the ITV programme 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here' broadcast on 19 November 2017 was the most watched TV programme in Northern Ireland in 2017.

An episode of BBC Newsline broadcast on 16 October, during Storm Ophelia, was the second most watched TV programme.

However, Ofcom said that there had been a fall in the hours of news and current affairs broadcast by BBC Northern Ireland by 8.8% to 331 hours in 2017.

The BBC said that was mainly down to the fact that 'Stormont Today' had not been broadcast since early 2017 due to the collapse of the Stormont assembly.

Ofcom also found that there were 75 radio stations broadcasting in Northern Ireland in March 2018.

Twenty of those were BBC and commercial stations, 13 were community stations and 52 others were available on digital radio.

However only half of adults in Northern Ireland own a digital radio, significantly lower than the rest of the UK.

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