By Kristy Dorsey

STV has leapfrogged BBC1 to become the most watched television channel in Scotland, both at peak time and across the whole of the day, for the first time since 2006.

In a trading update, STV chief executive Simon Pitts said he was encouraged by the group’s performance so far this year, which included a 12 per cent increase in TV viewing during the first quarter. Online viewing was 73% higher, with streams increasing by 98%.

A strong commercial and viewing performance is further expected in June, supported by the start of the delayed Euro 2020 championship where STV has the rights to broadcast more than 20 live and exclusive matches featuring Scotland and England.

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“It’s still relatively early days in the economic recovery but I’m encouraged by the strong start we’ve made to 2021, with advertising for the first five months of the year expected to return to 2019 levels and our excellent digital and production growth continuing,” Mr Pitts said.

Total advertising revenue from January to April rose by 10%, while regional advertising revenues were 12% higher.

The group expects advertising revenues in May will be 65-80% higher than in the same period last year, when business activity was hammered by the initial shock of the pandemic. Shares in STV closed yesterday’s trading 9.5p higher at 359p.