Multi-channel programmer UKTV – an independent commercial joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive – has recorded a 13 per cent leap in revenues and a 10 per cent increase in EBITDA on the back of a ratings performance that now puts its share of commercial impacts (SOCI) ahead of Sky and Channel 5.
The record results follow an increase of over 20 per cent investment in programming and related launches. The company’s performance has surpassed previous records in profits, ratings and revenue and its channel portfolio now has the two top-rating non-PSB channels in the UK: Dave and Drama.
Revenues rose to £319 million, and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation hit £82m. UKTV’s exceptional financial results were driven by strong advertising revenues derived from a strong SOCI performance in a resurgent television advertising market.
UKTV posted record operating profits of £79.6 million, up from £72.3 million in 2014 and £66.2 million in 2013, which represents an increase of over 20 per cent over two years.
In 2015, UKTV substantially increased its investment in content beyond the £123 million spent in 2014, taking the level of spend to over £148m, delivering year on year market share growth in viewing figures.
Growth in linear
Overall, 2015’s ratings show that UKTV delivered 9.31 per cent SOCI, putting it ahead of the Channel 5 portfolio (9.27 per cent) and Sky branded channels (9.27 per cent), including movies and sport. According to BARB data UKTV also grew its share of viewing to 5.26 per cent (from 5.07 per cent in 2014).
To put this in context, UKTV posted a SOCI figure of 7.19 per cent in 2010, so the latest figure of 9.31 per cent means that the media company has grown its share of commercial impacts by 29 per cent in just five years.
In December, UKTV further increased its footprint by launching Drama, Yesterday and Really on Freesat and the network remains on target in 2016 to continue its strong growth trajectory. UKTV launched new entertainment channel, W, in February and moved pay TV lifestyle channel, Home, onto Freeview in March.
Growth in on demand
The broadcaster has continued to invest in the expansion of its business beyond linear broadcasting, with a focus on its UKTV Play on demand platform. Drama joined Dave, Yesterday and Really on UKTV Play’s direct to consumer service last year, contributing to a 26 per cent increase in views year-on-year to the VOD service. UKTV also increased UKTV Play’s footprint via a brand new android app and launches on BT and Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. This expansion is set to continue in 2016 with the launch of UKTV Play on Freeview Play in late Q2.
Growth in UKTV originals
UKTV’s original programming has contributed to the strong financial results, with North One’s Storage Hunters UK Celebrity Special on Dave taking the crown for the network’s best performing show of the year (989k viewers).
Further UKTV originals that have significantly contributed to UKTV’s success include: critically-acclaimed Dave Gorman Modern Life is Goodish, comedy game show Taskmaster, which will open the Edinburgh International TV Festival later this year and Broadcast award-nominated Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled on Dave, The Interviews, Marley’s Ghosts and Broadcasting Press Guild-nominated Bob Monkhouse: Million Joke Man on Gold, and Most Haunted Live on Really, which trended above Strictly and X Factor on Twitter last year and delivered record viewing to the channel.
Last year, four of UKTV’s top ten performing titles were original commissions, three were UK premiere acquisitions and three were BBC titles. UKTV also celebrated two BAFTA nominations for its original programming (Dynamo Magician Impossible and Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down Five to Go), and continued to strengthen its commercial impacts and on demand services through original home-grown content, exclusive acquisitions and the very best from the BBC.
Darren Childs, Chief Executive, said: “Double digit growth is a tough goal. But we’ve achieved that in profit, in revenue and importantly, in investment in our programmes. That’s helping our reputation as a credible and successful investor in creativity go from strength to strength.
“UKTV has had market-beating growth again this year, taking the business to the next level. As investment increases, I’m confident this year will see yet more significant growth for this vibrant business.”
Jan Gooze-Zijl, Chief Financial and Operations Officer said: “Our over 20 per cent increase in content investment last year helped propel UKTV to record viewing, generating an all-time high level of revenue (£319.2m) and EBITDA (£82m). We also grew our share of commercial impacts to 9.31 per cent, enabling us to capitalise on the continued strength of the television and VoD advertising market.”