UKTV’s increased spend on content – both acquisitions and original commissions – certainly seems to be paying off, with the commercial network posting record ratings in 2013.
Per recently released year-end BARB reports, UKTV achieved an average audience share of 4.67%, up 5% on 2012’s audience share of 4.43%. In addition, the commercial network, which is a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive, saw its SOCI (share of commercial impacts) grow; delivering a share of over 8.2%, up on last year’s record results. Another key area of development for UKTV has been the launch of video-on-demand services, which saw an increase of use by 86% in 2013.
“UKTV has enjoyed three successive years of viewership growth and achieving over 8.2% of all commercial impacts in the UK last year puts our business at terrestrial levels of viewership, reaching 42 million viewers every month”, said Darren Childs, CEO of UKTV. “Audiences are rewarding UKTV’s compelling and creative programmes and brands with record ratings. This is fantastic news for our platform partners and for advertisers.”
As was the case in 2012, the festive period brought strong ratings to UKTV’s network of channels. Christmas Day saw the company achieve an audience share of 5.49%, up 20% year-on-year. Similarly, the ratings for Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were up across the broad; leading to December becoming UKTV’s must successful month in 21 years. The strong figures for the month, UKTV notes, “contributed to a huge increase in SOCI with the network predicted to achieve a record breaking commercial impact share of 9.6%.”
On a channel-by-channel basis, Dave saw a viewership increase of 20%, making it the most watched non-PSB channel in the UK; female-skewing Really posted a viewership increase of 7%, with the 2013 Christmas period bringing strong ratings; Gold also enjoyed strong ratings across the Christmas period, ranking as the highest non-terrestrial channel in Pay TV on Christmas Day; Watch had it best Christmas day in 5 years, with ratings up 13%; Alibi also saw a year-on-year ratings increase of 3%; while Drama, which launched in July 2013, achieved an audience share of 0.74%.
As noted above, the record breaking ratings comes on the back of UKTV investing £110 million on content; encompassing both acquisitions and original commissions. On the acquisitions side of things, Dave’s Storage Hunters, proved to be a hit with six episodes attracting over a million viewers; while the fourth season of Alibi’s Rizzoli & Isles proved particularly successful with an average consolidated audience of 0.567 million viewers, up 27% on season three. Meanwhile, a number of original commissions proved to be strong performer for UKTV, including Dynamo: Magician Impossible, Crackanory, Dave Gorman’s Modern Life Is Goodish and David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities.
The strong figures are good news for UKTV but with three consecutive years of growth, will 2014 see a fourth? With upcoming series in 2014 – such as JJ Abrams’ Believe and a new season of Dynamo: Magician Impossible on Watch, Suits season three and Spending Dave’s Money on Dave, Porridge: The Inside Story on Gold, John Torode’s Australia on Good Food and of course UKTV’s first original drama series from Red Planet Pictures’ Tony Jordan titled Legion – anything is possible.