Dave, one of ten UKTV linear channels, has been part and parcel of the UK broadcast setup ever since its Freeview relaunch in 2007.
The transformation into the ‘home of witty banter’ proved to be a gigantic success, and further UKTV channel rebrands quickly followed, starting with Gold in 2008. Avid viewers then witnessed further evolutions into Alibi, Watch, Eden, Blighty, Yesterday, Home and Really, capped off by Good Food in 2009.
Watch then became W in February, signifying UKTV’s continued flexibility and openness to change to match its audiences’ needs, in both linear and non-linear markets.
After seeing UKTV’s viewing share increase by 30 per cent in the last five years, and celebrating its most successful ever year in 2015, Tim Goff (pictured), head of technology and infrastructure at UKTV, said, “Linear TV is very much alive and well, and it’s really propelling this business to the next level. As families, we’re bigger than Sky and Channel 5’s portfolios in terms of share of commercial impacts.
“We’re becoming a real challenger in this space. However, as linear has grown, it has become increasingly important to manage our channels with greater flexibility than we were previously able to, because we need to be able to react to competitors and also react to content flows.”
So, when the broadcaster began its search for a broadcast management system (BMS) provider, it needed not only the right technology, but also a partner that offered precisely the right fit. Enter MediaGeniX and its WHATS’On solution.
Goff added, “It was important that we found one who not only understands UKTV’s business and can see how it’s evolving, but equally that understands how the industry is growing as well - one that spots trends and delivers solutions as those trends come to life.”
The BMS developer and provider already had something of a reputation after winning contracts with big-name industry companies such as Viacom International, Channel 5 and Globo.
WHATS’On manages around 1,700 services and channels, and according to Emmanuel Muller, business development director at MediaGeniX, it has already “become the point of reference” in the market.
Muller explained: “The system is really a business software backbone for broadcasters, as well as on demand service providers and platform operators.
“It handles a number of key business processes of a broadcaster, such as programming scheduling. It creates the schedules from a strategic point of view and ultimately, it produces a playlist that goes to an automation system for transmission.
“It’s a complete suite of functions to manage the core business of a broadcaster and operator.”
With an ever-fragmenting market, the implementation of WHATS’On at UKTV’s Hammersmith headquarters is designed to further enhance the broadcaster’s linear channel offering, as well as support the broadcaster’s rapidly growing VoD business, which saw views to it’s on demand service UKTV Play increase 26 per cent year on year in 2015.
Goff said: “We need far greater agility within our workflow, and to be able to efficiently communicate with our viewers via richer on screen messages.
“From a technology perspective, to take this business to the next level and beyond 2016, and deliver even more eyeballs onto our content, we wanted a solution that could really deliver for both our linear and non-linear content brands.
“From a VoD perspective, all the platforms out there all want to work to different specs, standards, video files and metadata, meaning that you’re effectively managing a bespoke workflow for each platform that you’re working with.
“To try and bring some efficiency to all of that, we want to introduce an industry standard technology that could manage that far more efficiency, which allows us to exploit new opportunities in the VoD space.”
Whether or not UKTV can continue it’s meteoric rise remains to be seen, but if it can continue to gain landmark deals, such as the exclusive rights to David Haye’s return back in January, the sky truly is the limit.