Driven By Originals Push, UKTV On Track To Break Ratings & SOCI Records For EOY 2016

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UKTV (ALT)2016 is set to be another record breaking year for UKTV.

The commercial network, which is a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive, is projecting that their SOCI for 2016 will hit an all-time high of 9.87%, up some 7.7% year-to-year.

UKTV’s commercial performance puts it ahead of both Channel 5’s portfolio of channels and all of Sky’s fully owned channels for the second year running and further closes the gap between the company and the ITV Digital channels group.

Commensurate with the surge in commercial impacts, UKTV’s audience share has grown 7.3% year-over-year to 5.64%. A key factor in said growth has been UKTV’s commitment to original and exclusive programming; with six of the top 10 rating shows on UKTV’s network in 2016 being UKTV Originals, compared to only one in 2010.

Dave, W, Gold, Drama and VOD service UKTV Play all had stellar years. Dave retained its title as the UK’s most watched non-PSB channel and took eight of the top ten slots in the channel’s ratings list for 2016. Some of the shows driving Dave’s success include Red Dwarf XI (2.4 million Total Consumption), Dave Gorman Modern Life is Goodish (1.1m), Taskmaster (1.3m), Celebrity Storage Hunters (1.4m), Dara O Briain’s Go 8 Bit (1.2m),  Zapped (1.1m) and US acquisition Suits.

WFollowing the launch of W, which was rebranded into a female skewing channel from general entertainment brand Watch, the channel achieved 5% growth in adult share year-on-year, with viewership amongst the target female audience up by 20%. Key originals here which drove the ratings growth include John Bishop in Conversation With James Cordon, Inside the Ambulance and Celebrity Haunted Hotel Live, the latter of which was up 244% on the slot average.

Gold saw success with original scripted comedies The Rebel, starring Simon Callow, and the second season of Marley’s Ghosts, starring Jo Joyner, John Hannah and Sarah Alexander. The Rebel attracted an audience of 459K viewers, while Marley’s Ghosts pulled in 424K viewers. Drama, meanwhile, had its best year ever; growing it audience share by 27% in 2016. Peaking with a daily share of 2.05%, the channel exceeded half a million viewers 31 times. The channel also had its best Christmas since 2013 this year.

VOD hub UKTV Play is being hailed as the company’s fastest growing brand with a 74% increase in direct-to-consumer views year on year. UKTV Originals performed extraordinarily well on the service; with 179% growth in direct-to-consumer streams of originals from 2015. Downloads of the UKTV Play app were also up 98% year on year. UKTV’s video on demand views across all platforms are up 51% year on year. The festive period was especially good for UKTV, with the network achieving 6.84% share, up 3% on its previous best in 2015.

Darren Childs (FT)“UKTV’s focus on content, brand and digital has grown audiences to almost 10% of all commercial TV viewing”, Darren Childs, Chief Executive Officer of UKTV, said in a statement. “In 2016 we broadened into new genres and built the popularity of programming such as Taskmaster, Dara O Briain’s Go 8 Bit and live sport. UKTV Play also grew VOD viewing by 74%, with more viewers coming in to our vibrant TV on demand service than ever before.”

Given that their originals strategy is clearly showing dividends (its worth noting here that this marks the fifth consecutive year of solid ratings/SOCI growth), UKTV is pushing forward with it. The company has recently commissioned a slew of shows for 2017, including: new seasons of Dave Gorman Modern Life Is GoodishTaskmaster and Red Dwarf for Dave; Dr Christian Will See You Now, Dancing For The Weekend and The Dressing Room for W; and scripted comedies Murder On The Blackpool Express and Henry IX for Gold.