A belated Christmas present arrived for UKTV this week with official BARB data detailing how the network grew its total share of the advertising market to 9 per cent in 2014, from 8.2 per cent in 2013. It also celebrated its most successful Christmas on record with viewing up 3 per cent year on year.
2014 saw UKTV, a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Network Interactive, increase its investment in on screen content to £125 million, achieving its highest ever year-end revenue of £278 million and EBITDA of £67.4 million.
Comedy channel Gold helped bolster the network’s audience share, as it was the most watched pay only channel (excluding film channels) across all platforms on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Nearly a million viewers tuned into the channel in July to watch the live broadcast of the Monty Python: One Down Five to Go show, earning Gold its highest ever overnight rating.
New offerings from the network have also contributed to its success. At the time of its summer launch last year Adrian Wills, the Drama channel’s general manager, commented: “Drama lovers’ prayers have been answered. This channel represents the best drama content within the genre and we are confident that viewers will enjoy these celebrated shows.” Wills’ confidence was well placed as the channel’s first full year of broadcast saw the channel achieve a 0.78 per cent share, breaking through the 1 per cent share mark on 23 days and pulling in audiences of over half a million with shows including New Tricks, Inspector George Gently and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.
UKTV Play launched in November last year and also contributed to the channel’s Christmas success. The video on-demand service posted a 169 per cent increase in downloads over the festive period versus the previous two weeks, registering a 42 per cent increase in views. In a move to further popularise the service it was announced this week that the first episode of the new series of Dave’s hit American legal drama, Suits, will premiere on UKTV Play a week before airing on television.
“UKTV is bucking the market, growing its share of the UK commercial TV market to 9 per cent, making our portfolio of channels vital for advertisers,” commented chief executive, Darren Childs (pictured). “This is the first time in the history of British television that a non-PSB channels business has played so big a role in the ratings charts and our investment will continue in 2015.”
The channel hopes to continue its success this year, with brand new commissions Hoff the Record, Undercover and Taskmaster on Dave, Singing in the Rainforest and World’s Most Talented on Watch and Bob Monkhouse: The Million Joke Man on Gold.