Advanced Television

UKTV: Record 2021

January 13, 2022

By Colin Mann

Multichannel programmer UKTV enjoyed a year of record growth in 2021, achieving its best-ever SOCI (share of commercial impacts) and network share for its seven channel portfolio – Dave, Drama, Gold, Yesterday, W, Eden and Alibi – and growing views to its on demand service UKTV Play.

“UKTV experienced strong growth in 2020 and to continue that momentum through 2021 is an incredible achievement,” declared UKTV‘s CEO, Marcus Arthur. “Our award-winning slate of UKTV Originals keeps going from strength to strength, with originations featuring six times in the top 10 shows across the network. UKTV’s drama commissioning has also reached new heights, with critically-acclaimed Annika breaking records on Alibi, and shows such as Ragdoll exciting audiences in the UK and internationally. And of course, our hit originals are supported by premiere acquisitions and the very best BBC content, helping to fuel the success of our channels, with Dave winning Channel of the Year at the Broadcast Digital Awards.

“In 2021 we also launched UKTV’s new digital content strategy with bespoke short-form commissions airing on Dave’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, acting as a gateway for younger viewers to engage with the brand and access our shows.”

“As we look forward to 2022, we will continue UKTV’s growth trajectory by working closely with domestic and international production partners, investing smartly in content, and expanding the footprint of our much-loved brands, he confirmed.”

Share of Commercial Impacts (SOCI)

UKTV achieved a record network SOCI of 8.52 per cent in 2021, with 5.7 per cent year-on-year growth. Ten out of the 12 months of the year celebrated record SOCI (February, March, April, June, July, August, September, October, November and December) with Drama leading the channel pack by achieving SOCI growth of 14.1 per cent.

UKTV network share and channels growth

UKTV’s seven channel network grew its viewing share by 4 per cent in 2021 to 4.80 per cent (up from 4.63 per cent in 2020), marking UKTV’s highest share to date for its current portfolio of channels. Drama also celebrated its best year on record, with adult share up 11 per cent and ABC1’s up 14 per cent year-on-year. Gold was up 7 per cent on its 2020 share and enjoyed its biggest Q1 and summer since 2013. Alibi also saw a 5 per cent uplift in share.

Dave delivered significant 16-34 share growth in 2021, outperforming the market. It increased its 16-34 viewing share by 14 per cent year-on-year, helped by strong launches for a wave of new comedy entertainment shows which have seen Mel Giedroyc, Richard Ayoade and David Mitchell join Big Zuu and others on the channel.


UKTV Originals continued to be leading lights on the network, accounting for six of the top 10 shows in 2021 (based on 4+ 7 Day Dovetail, Max 000s). Annika (pictured) headed the pack, becoming Alibi’s top performing title of all time (1.32m Total Consumption). It was joined by Meet the Richardsons (Dave) Secrets of the London Underground (Yesterday), Hornby: A Model World (Yesterday), Bangers and Cash (Yesterday) and Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable (Dave).

Dave enjoyed success with a string of new and returning commissions. Meet the Richardsons S2 (1m), Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable (801k), Late Night Mash (489k) and Outsiders (530k) all placed in the top five shows on the channel, alongside QI XL. Dave’s original output also achieved award recognition, with three shows winning Broadcast Digital Awards, including Big Zuu’s Big Eats which won Gamechanger of the Year and was nominated for prestigious BAFTA and RTS awards.

Yesterday achieved a similar feat with UKTV originals accounting for the top five shows on the channel, including the launch of Secrets of the London Underground which become the highest rating show in the history of the channel, averaging an impressive 737k across the series. Hornby: A Model World was a close runner up representing Yesterday’s second biggest launch to date and attracting 754k (partial TC) across its series run. Bangers and Cash S4, Secrets of the Transport Museum and The Architecture the Railways Built S2 rounded out the top five shows on the channel.

Alibi continued to ramp up its drama commissioning credentials with Black Camel’s Annika, starring Nicola Walker, becoming UKTV’s most successful show of 2021, and Sid Gentle’s dark drama Ragdoll, watched by 487k to date (partial Total Consumption). Acquisitions also performed well on the channel, with standout performances from Hudson and Rex S3 (591k), Smother (525k) and Deception (424k).

Gold continued to feed the nation’s love of comedy, with The Vicar of Dibley: Inside Out, becoming the channel’s most popular show of the year, watched by 829k. It’s the biggest retrospective to air on the channel since The Story of Only Fools & Horses in 2017. Scripted original, Murder, They Hope took the second spot (687k), followed by returning scripted series The Cockfields (490k). The Cockfields Christmas Special and Sandylands S2 also delivered in the channel’s top 10 shows of the year, alongside BBC classics Mrs Brown’s Boys and Vicar of Dibley.

On W, MasterChef Australia (305K) and UKTV Originals Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over S2 (477k) and Emma Willis: Delivering Babies in 2020 (346k) were in the top five shows on the channel and Delivering Babies continued its award success by winning a third consecutive Broadcast Digital Award. Drama’s record-breaking year, achieving 1.62 per cent share, was buoyed by a mixture of BBC classics and acquired content including Drama exclusive The Brokenwood Mysteries and Death in Holy Orders.

“I’m enormously grateful to our production partners and talent who’ve continued to raise the quality of our shows in all genres, despite the constraints of Covid,” said Richard Watsham, UKTV’s Director of Commissioning. “They’ve helped us take significant steps in creating a more diverse output, while also embracing our All Voices initiative to create opportunities behind the camera.”

“With their help, Dave has had a stunning period and the Channel of the Year Award speaks to a transformed channel which is well placed to grow. The originations strategy on Yesterday continues to build at pace with commissions accounting for the top five shows on the channel. Nicola Walker’s drama, Annika, became the best performing show in Alibi’s history, and for the third year in a row, Emma Willis: Delivering Babies won a Broadcast Digital Award for Popular Factual. A truly extraordinary achievement.”

“As we enter 2022, the network’s increasing share, backed by BBC favourites and smart third party acquisitions, provides a fantastic platform from which to launch our broadest ever slate of commissions. We’ll see the first comedies from Dave’s diverse writers’ initiative as well as digital and short form scaling up, giving us a more holistic approach to new talent development. More than ever, both linear and digital, new talent and established faces, acquired and commissioned content are all pulling together to take UKTV into the next stage of its growth,” he concluded.

“In 2021, UKTV and BBC Studios’ newly combined global acquisitions team worked with acquisition partners around the world to bring a rich mix of acquired and pre-sale content to UKTV’s channels, with shows such as Smother, Deception and The Brokenwood Mysteries complementing UKTV’s original output and proving popular with viewers,” noted Melanie Rumani, UKTV’s Global Head of Acquisitions. “With UKTV’s diverse portfolio of channels, we look forward to further strengthening these relationships in 2022 and acquiring more popular and exclusive titles for the network.”


UKTV Play re-built its mobile apps in 2021, introducing Live TV and offering a fresh, new design, faster performance, and enhancements to content discovery and search. Monetisable views to content on UKTV Play and pay platforms were up 34 per cent year-on-year, and UKTV Play added 1m registered users to reach 5.45 million. The top titles on pay platforms included many UKTV Originals and exclusive acquisitions such as Annika, Smother, Ragdoll, The Cockfields and Bangers and Cash. The Only Fools and Horses 40th Anniversary stunt in September, which offered VoD viewers the box set of all episodes, was also a viewing success.

UKTV Originals similarly were responsible for driving strong viewing performances and active users on UKTV’s direct-to-consumer service UKTV Play. Top performing shows included Bangers and Cash and Secrets of The London Underground from Yesterday, and brand new shows Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable, Outsiders and Late Night Mash, from Dave.

Social AVoD

Social AVoD formed a key part of UKTV’s digital strategy in 2021 with an aim to reach new, younger audiences. UKTV relaunched its Dave YouTube channel featuring archive clips, outtakes and specially-commissioned short-form content (e.g. Who Cares? hosted and produced by Chicken Shop Date creator Amelia Dimoldenberg, and Big Zuu’s Wrap Clash) which helped the channel achieve over 8.4 million views last year. UKTV also teamed up with BBC Studios to commission three series for Dave’s Facebook page: The Comedy Guide to Life, BackChat and Bad Advice with Olga Koch.

In 2021, UKTVs social feeds saw impressions up 12 per cent year on year, averaging 20 million impressions per month, and followers increased by 20 per cent. Dave’s TikTok feed also enjoyed a e 300 per cent yearly increase in views.

Coming up in 2022.

Viewers have plenty to look forward to across UKTV’s channels in 2022, with a number of new and returning shows, including second outings for Traces, We Hunt Together, and Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable. These will be joined by scripted comedy, Newark Newark and Billy Connolly Does… on Gold; feature length Dave comedy special We Are Not Alone; Alex Jones: Making Babies and Rochelle Humes: Interior Designer in the Making on W; and ob-doc Scouting for Toys on Yesterday.



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