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BBC ALBA reports significant increase in viewing figures since switching to Freeview

By Hamish Mackay

October 21, 2011 | 4 min read

BBC ALBA, the Gaelic television channel, has revealed that its viewing figures have soared since the channel was made available on Freeview and Virgin Media’s Cable in June.

During June to September, BBC ALBA says the fledgling channel attracted …”a significant number of new viewers averaging a total claimed weekly reach of 12.9% of adults aged 16 and over - equating to 530,000 viewers."

A media release adds: “The claimed fifteen minute plus reach for the channel over the same four month period was 10.6% which equates to 430,000 viewers per week.

“In addition, the average time viewers spent watching BBC ALBA per week was 1 hour 40 minutes. "

The release explains that prior to the channel being made available on Freeview, the total weekly reach for the channel was 220,000 viewers with the weekly fifteen minute plus reach being 179,000 viewers.

This figure is for those tuning into the channel in Scotland only and does not take account of anyone in the rest of the UK who may be viewing programmes on BBC ALBA, it said.

It also does not include the under-16 age group who may watch the schedule of children’s programming on offer.

Additionally, a watch-again facility provides 10 hours of BBC ALBA content on the BBC iPlayer each week. Latest figures available, covering the period January to September 2011, found that there was an average of 29,000 requests per week for BBC ALBA content on iPlayer.

The release says: “Channel executives have attributed the increase in viewing figures to the distinctive and high quality range of programmes offered, as well as the increased accessibility for viewers.

“Three years on, the channel has continued to provide an excellent range of high quality programmes appealing to audiences across Scotland with productions from many genres including observational documentaries, news and current affairs, entertainment and lifestyle, religion, children’s programming, music and sport.”

BBC ALBA is a partnership service between MG ALBA and BBC Scotland.

Margaret Mary Murray, head of services for BBC ALBA, commented: “We are delighted that our latest viewing figures confirm that audiences across Scotland are watching and enjoying BBC ALBA’s daily schedule of programmes. Broadcasting on Freeview and Cable, coupled with Satellite services, enables all households in Scotland and beyond to access the diverse range of high quality and entertaining programmes that BBC ALBA has to offer.”

Alasdair Morrison, chairman of MG ALBA said: “The new viewing figures for BBC ALBA over the first four months since being launched on Freeview are extremely encouraging, particularly since the summer is not regarded as a peak viewing time of the year for any television channel.

“However, it is still very much early days since the channel was launched on Freeview and the focus now is to continue to build on the channel’s current success to maintain a high level of viewers who are enjoying the premier package of home-grown productions and unique Scottish content with music, sport and documentaries being the most popular genres on the channel.

“Since it was launched, the channel has attracted much enthusiasm across Scotland from both Gaelic and non-Gaelic communities and it is pleasing to see so many new viewers embracing the high quality programming that BBC ALBA has to offer.”

Prior to the channel being made available on Freeview and Virgin Media’s Cable this summer, BBC ALBA was available solely through the satellite platforms Sky 168 and Freesat 110.


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