Research: Lockdown sees younger viewers turn to UKTV classics

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Multichannel programmer UKTV says it is outpacing television’s general upward viewing trend during lockdown with its mix of bold originals and classic programming proving a hit with younger viewers. The network has seen a 55 per cent volume increase in 16-34s versus the pre-lockdown period, with April marking UKTV’s best SOCI (share of commercial impacts) performance for this demographic in six years.

Classic shows such as The Vicar of Dibley, Only Fools & Horses and Gavin & Stacey feature in UKTV’s top 10 linear shows for 16-34s, alongside UKTV’s original titles such as Red Dwarf: The Promised Land, Hypothetical and Meet The Richardsons. In addition, early data for brand new UKTV Original Big Zuu’s Big Eats, which premiered on Dave in mid-May, reveals it is a hit with 16-34s, with 47 per cent of its audience falling into this age bracket.

As well as linear viewing, UKTV’s on demand service, UKTV Play, has seen a 16 per cent volume increase in 16-34s using the platform and a 27 per cent increase in views to the service overall. Younger viewers are watching more vintage and factual shows on UKTV Play with Birds of a Feather and early episodes of Casualty, Classic EastEnders and The Bill all seeing upticks in 16-34 volume, alongside UKTV Originals such as Expedition with Steve Backshall and Borderforce: America’s Gatekeepers.

“Television can bring great comfort in these troubled times,” remarked Marcus Arthur, UKTV CEO. “We’re staying at home and the news is bleak, but escapist, entertaining and comforting TV can bring great joy. Shared viewing has increased by a quarter as families sit down together to watch TV and the boost in 16-34-year-olds visiting UKTV’s channels has contributed to the network’s strong growth in share of commercial impacts.”

“It’s heartening to see younger viewers discovering iconic shows that have stood the test of time and are just as funny and engaging today as they were years ago. And our strategy of commissioning original programming on a bedrock of classics means new shows like the feature length Red Dwarf: The Promised Land, Big Zuu’s Big Eats and Meet The Richardsons offer audiences fresh and exciting programming alongside a vast catalogue of firm favourites.”

The UKTV network is reaching a higher volume of young people more frequently with weekly reach up 22 per cent and daily reach up 37.8 per cent. UKTV’s entertainment channels have also seen big SOCI gains in recent weeks with Dave now the biggest non-PSB owned channel for 16-34s. Dave and Gold have each increased their 16-34 profiles by 3 percentage points (to 19 per cent and 16 per cent respectively). Overall, the network has added 0.70 of a SOCI point during the lockdown period with its share of commercial impacts rising to 8.25 per cent (an increase of 9 per cent).

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land has been watched by over 2 million viewers, making it the highest rating show on the network during lockdown and the highest rating TX on Dave in seven years. Series one of Meet The Richardson’s attracted 1.13 viewers (TC – Total Consumption) and Hypothetical series two achieved a strong 38 per cent 16-34 profile and 595k TC.

During lockdown, UKTV has also seen viewers moving to its social channels, with social media mentions up 555 per cent vs. pre-lockdown. Dave’s newly launched TikTok channel has clocked over 1.6 million views for one video alone, and engagement on Twitter and Facebook is up by 202 per cent and 149 per cent respectively. Digital content produced during lockdown includes Isolation Specials for Dave’s Podcast in association with CALM, Conversations Against Living Miserably and Big Zuu’s Big Eats which pivoted planned in-studio influencer cooking content into Isolation Eats, where grime artist Zuu remotely guides the likes of Grime Gran and Clara Amfo through some of his favourite recipes.

Furthermore, Gold has celebrated its role as home of the nation’s favourite comedies by hosting a virtual sitcom quiz on Facebook and Twitter, with rounds hosted by John Challis, Ricky Tomlinson, Kevin McNally and Sian Gibson.


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