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Multichannel programmer UKTV is celebrating its most successful year after record-breaking viewing puts it neck and neck with terrestrial FTA pubcaster Channel 5’s full portfolio and all of Sky’s wholly-owned channels, including movies and sport, for the first time.
In 2015 UKTV grew its share to 5.27 per cent (from 5.08 per cent in 2014) and as of the 26th December it delivered 9.27 per cent SOCI (share of commercial impacts), putting it marginally ahead of the Channel 5 portfolio (9.26 per cent) and Sky branded channels (9.25 per cent), in a race to the finish line.
UKTV’s increased investment in original programming has contributed to the network’s record-breaking viewing in 2015, up 3.7 per cent year on year. Official Barb data shows that smash hit commissions Storage Hunters UK Celebrity Special and Dave Gorman Modern Life is Goodish were UKTV’s highest rating programmes of 2015, helping to propel UKTV – an independent joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Network Interactive Inc. – to its fifth consecutive year of growth. Since 2010 the network has increased its viewing share by 30 per cent.
Christmas was cause for further celebration, with the network powering past Channel 5’s portfolio with a 6.63 per cent share versus 5.9 per cent, to celebrate its best festive period in the company’s history, up 11.4 per cent year on year. Sunday 27 December broke all records and propelled UKTV to its highest daily share ever, 7.62 per cent and the network enjoyed its most successful Boxing Day (6.69 per cent), New Year’s Eve (6.94 per cent) and New Year’s Day (6.91 per cent). UKTV Play also had a very successful Christmas period with a 66 per cent increase in app downloads in December versus November.
UKTV’s chief financial and operations officer Jan Gooze-Zijl, said that UKTV’s success wasa because it had taken risks and experimented with its content mix, ensuring viewers needs were at the heart of everything it did. “For the first time in our history we are on a par with both Sky and Channel 5’s full portfolios which is testament to the hard work of all 270 staff members based here in Hammersmith,” he added.
UKTV’s original commissions have helped drive this growth, with North One’s Storage Hunters UK Celebrity Special on Dave taking the crown for the network’s best performing show of the year (834k viewers – part consolidated). It narrowly beat Liberty Bell’s critically-acclaimed Dave Gorman Modern Life is Goodish, which has consistently grown its audience over the course of its three series run and in 2015 its highest rating episode attracted 739k viewers. Further UKTV originals that have significantly contributed to UKTV’s success include: Taskmaster, Alan Davies As Yet Untitled on Dave, The Interviews, Marley’s Ghosts and Bob Monkhouse: Million Joke Man on Gold and Most Haunted Live on Really.
The individual performances of UKTV’s portfolio of 10 channels and VoD service UKTV Play, have also contributed to the network’s upward growth trend.
Dave, UKTV’s flagship free-to-air entertainment channel, retained its place as the number one non-PSB channel in the UK and grew by 1 per cent year on year. Brand new comedy gameshow Taskmaster, fronted by comedians Greg Davies and Alex Horne, proved a hit, attracting 539k viewers to its highest rating episode. The show’s mix of banter and outlandish tasks quickly propelled it to cult status and two further series are in the works for later this year. Emmy award-nominated The Last Man on Earth was the highest rating acquisition on Dave, with its best rating episode attracting 596k adults.
Drama had a stellar year and increased its share of viewing by 24 per cent to 0.97 per cent, making it the number two non-PSB channel in the UK behind Dave. The channel hit 1 per cent share on 147 occasions and exceeded half a million viewers nine times with popular shows New Tricks, The Pinkertons and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. Alibi, the home of the best British and US crime drama, also celebrated its most successful year since launch, up 5 per cent year on year to 0.45 per cent share, the highest in the channel’s history. Returning crime duo Rizzoli & Isles delivered its best ever audience with 731k viewers, to make it Alibi’s second highest rating show since the channel’s inception.
Britain’s favourite comedy channel Gold launched a raft of original scripted and non-scripted programming with sitcom Marley’s Ghosts, starring John Hannah, Sarah Alexander and Jo Joyner, proving popular with viewers, attracting 432k viewers to its first episode. Bob Monkhouse: The Million Joke Man premiered with 416k viewers, up 337 per cent on slot and definitive autobiographical series The Interviews entertained a peak audience of 243k (up 95 per cent on slot).
Leading real-life TV channel Really saw a 13 per cent year on year increase to 0.54 per cent share. Original commission Most Haunted Live attracted 529k viewers, propelling Really to its best ever daily share at 1.27 per cent. Good Food also had an outstanding year, up 41 per cent year on year to 0.17 per cent share.
The broadcaster’s on demand service UKTV Play also grew its presence in the VoD market significantly in 2015. UKTV saw a 26 per cent increase in views year on year, plus a 175 per cent increase in iOS app downloads (January 2015 vs December 2015 month on month). This success was driven by high-performing UKTV originals such as Dave Gorman Modern Life is Goodish, Taskmaster and Most Haunted Live, and launches on a number of new platforms such as Amazon Fire TV.