03 August 2023

Derry Girls most-watched TV programme in Northern Ireland last year, says Ofcom

03 August 2023

Derry Girls was the most-watched TV programme in Northern Ireland last year, with the first episode of the final series being watched by nearly half a million viewers on Channel 4, a new report from Ofcom has shown.

The sitcom, which follows a group of teenagers navigating growing up in Northern Ireland in the context of the Troubles, averaged more than three million viewers in its third season and won a number of Baftas including best scripted comedy.

The popularity of Derry Girls made Northern Ireland the only region in the UK in which a programme from Channel 4 appeared in the top 10 most watched.

Northern Ireland was also the only region of the UK where The King’s Christmas Day message was in the top 10 list, as the sixth most-watched programme in 2022, with an average audience of 292,000.

Ofcom’s latest Media Nations report shows a continuing demand for local content in Northern Ireland, with local radio stations accounting for more than half of total radio listening in the region.

Almost 92% of the adult population – 1.4 million people – are tuning in to radio for an average of 19 hours and 54 mins each week, meaning more people listen to radio in Northern Ireland than in other nations in the UK.

The media regulator also revealed that people in Northern Ireland spent less time watching TV than in the previous year, with an average of two hours 44 minutes spent per day watching broadcast TV on a TV set in 2022, a 9.5% decline compared with 2021.

In line with the general trend across the UK, older people in Northern Ireland watched more broadcast TV on a television set than younger viewers.

The over-54s watched more than any other age group, at an average of five hours and 14 minutes per day, down by nearly 5% from 2021.

Those aged 16-24 watched the least, at an average of 31 minutes per day, down by more than 22% since 2021.

However, more than 95% of online adults and teens in Northern Ireland used a broadcaster video-on-demand service.

Four in five online adults and teens in Northern Ireland (80%) reported using BBC iPlayer, with 46% using Channel 4 and just over one in four using My5.

Just under half (49%) of TV users in Northern Ireland have a TV connected to the internet, which is lower than the average across the UK, where 65% of TV homes have a connected TV.

Analysis of how people in Northern Ireland consumed news content showed that no newspapers entered the top 10 news sources, but Facebook ranked as the fourth most-popular source of news.

Two in five adults who follow news claim to be ‘very interested’ in news about Northern Ireland (39%), and those who live in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are more likely to be ‘very interested’ in news about their nation.

Included in the data was an outline of the impact of broadcast and production in Irish and in Ulster Scots.

The Irish Language Broadcast Fund (ILBF) was launched in 2005 with the aim of funding Irish language content and fostering the Irish-speaking independent production sector in Northern Ireland.

Of the current funding, £3.15 million comes from the UK Government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, through the British Film Institute, and one million euros from the Irish Government’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Gaeltacht, Arts, Sports and Media via Northern Ireland Screen.

The ILBF funded a wide range of Irish language content in 2022, for broadcast primarily on TG4, BBC Northern Ireland and RTE.

This includes Lagan Media’s An Diabhal Inti (The Devil’s In Her) on TG4 which explored how and why thousands of people, mostly women, were accused of being in league with the devil and executed as ‘witches’.

The Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund (USBF) was established in 2010 to provide finance for the production of film, television and other moving image productions on Ulster-Scots heritage, culture and language.

Nineteen projects received funding from the USBF in 2022, including six television productions, two radio productions, eight digital projects, one television development project and additional funding for two TV productions.

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