Multi-channel broadcaster UKTV has reported a record year for revenue, profit and viewership, with results for the year ending December 31st 2016 showing EBITDA growth of 11.3 per cent to £91.3 million (€108.9m), and revenue growth of 8 per cent to £344.8 million.
“UKTV is delivering well against its strategy, with record profit, revenue, and share of commercial linear and non-linear audiences,” advised Darren Childs, CEO. “Over the last three years, we have increased UKTV’s profit by over a third, by investing smartly in UKTV Originals and making sure our shows are accessible to viewers on all major digital platforms.”
“Looking ahead, I believe there is great headroom to continue to grow share in our channels business, but we are also broadening our focus. We will capitalise on the growth of UKTV Originals and build original entertainment with shows such as Porters, Into The Fire, Murder on the Blackpool Express and a new primetime format for W hosted by Davina McCall. We will invest more in VoD because our new advertising deal makes investment in on demand services attractive. UKTV Play remains our fastest-growing and youngest brand – across content, marketing and increasing our capability to use data to better serve advertisers.”
“Even during a turbulent year in the ad market, the business continues to deliver double-digit profit growth. This strong performance has allowed us to invest in creative commissions but we want to do more. That’s why in 2017 we are diversifying our business with the launch of The Innovation Fund. This is a significant move for UKTV, as we plan to make a multi-million-pound investment in high-growth potential businesses, to generate new revenue streams.”
In 2016, UKTV continued its trajectory of sustained growth against all financial metrics. Over the course of three years, revenues have grown by 24.1 per cent (£277.8 million to £344.8 million) and EBITDA is up 35.5 per cent (£67.4 million to £91.3 million). The strong financial performance has been driven by a consistent strategy of investment in UKTV’s brands, in digital distribution, and programming including UKTV Originals, which is helping attract larger audiences to UKTV channels. UKTV has seen continued progress in 2016 across all areas of the business, including growth in its linear and on demand propositions.
UKTV announced plans to launch a multi-million-pound Innovation Fund in 2017. Partnering with Channel 4’s Commercial Growth Fund, The Innovation Fund is designed to unlock incremental revenue streams, enabling UKTV to invest in burgeoning high-growth companies across a variety of industries, obtaining equity stakes in businesses in return for advertising airtime on UKTV’s network, and helping growing organisations enter the TV advertising market. The first deals are expected to be announced later in 2017.
UKTV’s increased investment in programming and related launches of £151.2 million in 2016 resulted in more original programming across the network, with double the number of UKTV Originals hours premiering in 2016 versus 2015. Commissioned content on Dave proved particularly popular with viewers; UKTV Originals made up eight out of the channel’s top 10 titles – Live Boxing: David Haye v Mark de Mori, Red Dwarf XI, Live Boxing: David Haye v Arnold Gjergjaj, Taskmaster, Dave Gorman Modern Life is Goodish, Dara O Briain’s Go 8 Bit, Celebrity Storage Hunters and Zapped.
The network is planning to increase its original entertainment hours this year with more brand-new formats and shows in the pipeline, including:
UKTV’s homegrown content has claimed critical success as well as ratings, helping propel Dave to Best Entertainment Channel at the 2016 Broadcast Digital Awards and securing the network’s first International Emmy for Hoff The Record. UKTV’s ongoing commitment to increase investment in original shows will see the broadcaster bring back 16 returning UKTV Original series in 2017 for subsequent seasons – including the award-winning series Taskmaster, Red Dwarf and Zapped. This is double the number of returning series on the network from 2014 to 2015.
UKTV’s diverse programme mix of channel-defining original programmes, premiere acquisitions and the BBC’s finest shows drove record growth of the network in 2016, with UKTV’s year-end share of commercial impacts (SOCI) of 9.85 per cent.
In 2016 Dave and Drama retained their positions as the top two non-PSB channels in the UK, with Drama growing its share of viewing by 27 per cent through the popularity of classic BBC titles including Death in Paradise and Inspector George Gently.
UKTV’s new premium entertainment channel W also grew viewing through hit original shows such as John Bishop: In Conversation With… and increased viewership amongst its target female audience by almost a fifth.
UKTV Play, UKTV’s video on demand service, is the fastest growing part of the business, driven by the continued expansion of the service onto new platforms and devices and growing brand awareness. So far in 2017 the service has grown direct-to-consumer views by 51 per cent year-on-year. Recently UKTV unveiled a major update of UKTV’s Play on demand mobile app, available free on iOS and Android, featuring enhanced personalisation, a slick new interface and an extended selection of box sets.
Later in 2017, Sky customers can watch catch-up on demand content from all of UKTV’s channels via a dedicated UKTV Play area on Sky Q, Sky+, Sky Go and Sky Q app. This will give viewers access to thousands more hours of UKTV’s catch-up programmes and box sets. UKTV will also launch its UKTV Play app on Now TV boxes later in 2017.
Key developments announced to date in 2017 include: