UKTV is officially the fastest growing broadcaster in Britain, it claimed this morning, and is now vying for the title of top non-PSB broadcaster. Overall, 2014’s commercial impacts show that while other broadcasters fell by 3.7 per cent collectively, UKTV hit a high of nine per cent SOCI (share of commercial impacts), up 9.4 per cent from 2013, bucking the market trend.
UKTV booked record revenue of £283 million last year (2013: £278 million) and saw a ten per cent increase in EBITDA at £74.1 million (2013 £67.4 million).
Its success has allowed UKTV – an independent joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Network Interactive – to invest in more original content in addition to its acquisitions. Two of UKTV’s top-rated shows Dynamo Magician Impossible and Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go, secured BAFTA nominations last month, and other recent successes include the launch of Storage Hunters UK, which debuted on the Dave channel in January with 14.4 million viewers.
“We are significantly increasing our investment in brilliant content, both in what we spend on our outstanding UK originations and in our enviable collection of ‘best in class’ acquisitions from BBC as well as from C4, ITV and overseas,” said Darren Childs, chief executive, UKTV. “We pay relentless attention to our ever-increasing reach and distribution, ensuring modern British viewers can enjoy our vibrant channels and imaginative shows, whichever kind of television provision and technology they have: free, pay or online only.”
UKTV’s £123 million investment in content has clearly paid off, and four of the top ten most-watched shows across all of UKTV’s channels were original commissions. Jan Gooze-Zijl, UKTV’s chief financial and operations officer has promised that over the coming year, “we are substantially increasing our investment in content beyond the 2014 levels of £123 million and already we are delivering year on year market share growth in our viewing.”
The launch of digital brand UKTV Play last year has also bolstered the network’s financial results, and helped all on-demand views across the network grow 348 per cent in 2014 vs 2013. The service featured previews of hit US show Suits in January this year, and in February launched on Android, giving viewers on-demand access to all ten of UKTV’s channels.
“This is the first time in the history of British television that a non-PSB channels business has played such a big role in the ratings, but expect much more from us,” said Darren Childs, UKTV’s chief executive. “This is just the groundwork to ensure long term, future success for UKTV.”