Last week we announced that early next year STV will launch a brand new news programme, STV News Tonight.
This is a TV first as we seek to bring viewers an integrated news programme that offers Scottish, UK and international news from a Scottish perspective. Just like the launch of Scotland Tonight five years ago, we welcome the challenge.
Innovation has served STV well and we are confident that we can deliver a seven o’clock nightly news programme that will be consistently relevant and engaging for our audiences. The programme will be produced live from Glasgow and delivered in collaboration with ITV News, drawing on its UK and international correspondents.
The main reasons for why now is the right time to introduce an integrated news programme for Scotland are threefold. Firstly, we recognise there is a distinctive news agenda in a devolved nation. Secondly, the expansion of our city TV service into new locations offers a unique opportunity to bring STV viewers a wider choice of programming on a second network. Finally, we believe there is an appetite for news delivered in this way.
An important principle of our approach is context – delivering the day’s top stories from different categories in a way that is relevant to viewers. There are absolutely no quotas when it comes to including set numbers of stories that are international, Scottish or UK wide. Relevance to the Scottish audience will be key in determining the editorial agenda.
Importantly, STV News Tonight is an addition to our current schedule. We are not taking anything away. Viewers in the west will still be able to see John MacKay at six o’clock, just as viewers will still receive their news from Andrea Brymer and Norman MacLeod in the north. This approach means that we are not displacing any of our current news offering but in fact enhancing consumer choice with an additional programme.
STV News Tonight will be available across Scotland via live stream, a method of viewing that we have seen grow exponentially. In the first half of 2016, the number of total live streams on the STV Player was up 152 per cent on the same period last year. In June this year, live streams on the Player overtook catch-up streams for the first time.
And STV News Tonight will be the flagship programme of the network that will be known as STV2, reinforcing STV’s commitment to continued investment in news and current affairs. City TV has proved popular in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the success of the live daily Edinburgh Festival show and Homeless World Cup coverage in Glasgow just two examples of content that we can give a platform to. We believe the addition of licences for Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee gives us the opportunity to offer more with a larger STV2 network. It will be available in every Sky home and every Virgin home in the STV area, as well as around 80 per cent of Freeview households.
Scotland Tonight will celebrate its fifth year on air this October with audiences in excess of 75,000 each week night. The show has undoubtedly proved to be a winning addition to our schedule and we have every confidence the STV News Tonight will deliver the same success.
Bobby Hain is director of channels at STV