Herald Survey

What They Watch

The "thief in the corner" seems to be slipping in terms of its diligence and tenacity. Television is not stealing as much of young people's time as it used to. According to our findings teenage boys are spending two and a half hours less in front of the television compared with their counterparts nearly ten years ago. In 1988 boys spent on average twenty-one and a half hours a week watching the box. It is now down to 19 hours. Among girls were the average has fallen from 19 hours to 16 hours.

Based on their responses to a question which asked them to name their favourite programme, boys are well on their way to maturing into the spectator sportsmen which Scotsmen have become.

Among the most popular programmes are Match of the Day (5% of boys) and They Think it1s All Over (4%) but even so, the one which came up most often was The X-Files with just over 6% of boys selecting it. With such viewing habits it seems likely that boys will be the future target audience of satellite television. BSkyB has announced it will broadcast 1400 hours of sport and 400 movies next year. Scottish boys are likely to be attracted by that kind of package.

Other programmes mentioned by the boys include the predictable range of soaps and the inevitable Friends.

Soaps are even more popular with girls, with 42% naming a soap as their favourite programme. EastEnders was the choice of 16% of girls while the Australian soaps remain compulsory viewing with Home and Away receiving 13% of the female vote and Neighbours 12%.

Although EastEnders is the most popular programme overall with 9.4%, only 3% of boys identified it as their favourite. Friends attracts significant numbers of both boys and girls. The youth of the central characters and the focus on males and females seems to be successful even with an audience which has an average age of thirteen. 9% of all those asked named Friends as their favourite programme.

The range of programmes is disappointingly narrow. Only one child selected the news and no-one mentioned documentaries.

Reactions to television advertising highlight the preference for comedy. The most popular advert is for Safeway . Although not one which is targeted at thirteen-year-olds it was chosen by 11% of all those asked. More predictably the Spice Girls, Coke, Diet Coke and Rolo were also chosen. Advertisers will be pleased to know that the target group is responding.

There was little change from the 1988 figures in the video viewing category. On average girls will watch two videos a week while the boys will view three.

The most popular genre is comedy (19%) and is particularly attractive to girls, with 23% of girls selecting it. Perhaps surprisingly the second choiceamong the girls was horror (14% of the female vote).

Even more popular with the boys than comedy is the all-action hero. Action movies were selected by 38% of all boys with a further 4% saying that violent videos were their favourite.

One third of pupils did not name a favourite video type although many watched a significant number of videos every week and whereas 29% of pupils in Highland and Argyll and Bute watch more than two videos a week, the figure rises to 39% in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

The average second year pupil will also visit the cinema once each month. A similar picture emerged in a UK survey of 7-14 year-olds in 1995. The Scottish figures for visiting the cinema more often than that (classified as regular cinema-goers) is high at 33%. An equivalent UK figure for 15 - 24 year-olds is a much lower 18% although 41% of those questioned did not enter any figure when asked how often they visited the cinema.

Inevitably there are geographical differences in cinema-attendance figures. In Highland and Argyll & Bute where there are fewer screens and travelling distances are longer only 14% said they visited the cinema more than once a month. In Renfrewshire the figure rises to 41% and in Inverclyde with the opening of the Waterfront Cinema 'going to the pictures' is once again popular. More than half of Inverclyde youngsters said they went to the cinema more than once every month.

The local cinemas were popular with this age group. Twenty-nine percent named one of the relatively small, local cinemas as the one they would be most likely to visit. In Renfrewshire the support for the now-closed Kelburne was as high as 30% but multiplexes were also popular receiving 24% support from all those surveyed. It may be that at 13 being able to get to the local cinema under your own steam is attractive. Going to a multiplex often means getting taken there and probably picked up later.

Herald Media Survey
Listening Habits
Dawn of the Computer Age
What they Read