In its first year without Big Brother, Channel 5 , the UK commercial broadcaster, achieved 4 per cent growth in share of viewing amongst adult audiences across its entire free-to-air portfolio, according to consolidated BARB data. Simultaneously, the main Channel 5 network delivered its best year for upmarket viewers since 2014, growing its share of viewing by 3 per cent amongst ABC1s – the only public service broadcast channel to grow ABC1s in 2019.
During 2019, Channel 5 increased the number of new programmes it aired by one third, re-allocating budget previously committed to Big Brother to fund a move into drama and invest in a diversified factual slate.
Revenge drama series, Cold Call, starring Sally Lindsay, drew the channel’s highest average viewing figures across the year, with 2.6 million viewers and a 9.9 per cent share when it launched in November.
New specialist factual series also proved popular with Channel 5 viewers, including The Thames: Britain’s Great River with Tony Robinson, which was watched by a peak audience of 1.6 million and attracted a 7.8 per cent share. Returning hit series Our Yorkshire Farm and Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild (pictured) appealed to a high of 2.5 million (11.4 per cent share) and 1.9 million (7.6 per cent share) viewers respectively.
Factual consumer series brought in some of the biggest audiences for Channel 5 in 2019, including Inside Aldi: Britain’s Biggest Supermarket, which was watched by an average 2.5 million viewers, with an 11.2 per cent share. Sport also made an impact, with The Ashes cricket highlights bringing in 2.5 million viewers (17 per cent share).
Channel 5 finished the year with its best Christmas ratings since 2005. Strongly performing programmes across the period included The World’s Most Expensive Christmas Cruise Ship (1.8m/11.3 per cent), Peter Kay Comedy Genius (1.8m/10.4 per cent) and The Two Ronnies: The Unseen Sketches (1.2m/7.3 per cent).
Ben Frow, Director of Programmes, ViacomCBS Networks UK, commented: “It is no easy feat to have reinvented our peak schedule without a reality juggernaut like Big Brother, and to have grown audience in the process is quite an achievement. It is a huge testament to the tenacity of our team and the fact that we know what our viewers want. This is an exciting new era for Channel 5 and in particular we’ll be ramping up our drama slate in 2020.”
Drama is also helping to drive on-demand success for Channel 5’s VOD service, My5. Cold Call was the top performing series in 2019 on the platform, with 1.5 million views, and delivered the single most watched episode in My5’s history.