UK TV has announced a significant leap in revenue, ratings and programme investment in the last year.
The UK’s broadcasting network delivered 9.31 per cent SOCI across 2015, putting it ahead of the Channel 5 portfolio (9.27 per cent) and Sky branded channels (9.27 per cent), including movies and sport. To put that in context, UKTV posted a SOCI figure of 7.19 per cent in 2010, which means that the media company has grown its share of commercial impacts by 29 per cent in just five years. According to BARB data, UKTV also grew its share of viewing to 5.26 per cent (from 5.07 per cent in 2014).
The figures highlight the growing footprint of the network, with Drama, Yesterday and Really recently landing on Freesat, premium lifestyle channel, Home, moving to Freeview, and entertainment channel W being rebranded in February.
As a result of that ratings growth, revenue for UKTV jumped 13 per cent in 2015. The company’s performance has surpassed previous records in profits, ratings and revenue and its channel portfolio now has the two top-rating non-PSB channels in the UK: Dave and Drama. Revenues rose to £319m, while earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation hit £82m. UKTV partly attributes that increase to a “resurgent television advertising market”, posting record operating profits of £79.6m, up from £72.3m in 2014 and £66.2m in 2013, which represents an increase of over 20 per cent over two years.
In an age of ever-diversifying entertainment across the web and TV, original content has been a key driver of UKTV’s success. The company’s investment in programming and launches jumped 20 per cent in 2015, from £123m to £148m, with North One’s Storage Hunters UK Celebrity Special on Dave taking the crown for the network’s best performing show of the year (989k viewers). Other popular UKTV originals include Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish, comedy game show Taskmaster, which will open the Edinburgh International TV Festival later this year, and Broadcast award-nominated Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled on Dave. Indeed, last year, four of UKTV’s top ten performing titles were original commissions.
The broadcaster has continued to invest in the expansion of its business beyond linear broadcasting, with a focus on its UKTV Play on demand platform – where original content is also key to bringing in customers outside of linear broadcast schedules. Drama joined Dave, Yesterday and Really on UKTV Play’s line-up last year, contributing to a 26 per cent increase in views year-on-year. UKTV also increased UKTV Play’s footprint with a new android app and launches on BT and Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. This expansion is set to continue in 2016 with the launch of UKTV Play on Freeview Play in late Q2, leaving only Roku as the major absentee in the list of UKTV Play-supported devices.
“Double digit growth is a tough goal,” Darren Childs, Chief Executive, said in a statement. “But we’ve achieved that in profit, in revenue and importantly, in investment in our programmes. That’s helping our reputation as a credible and successful investor in creativity go from strength to strength.”
“I’m confident this year will see yet more significant growth for this vibrant business,” he added.
Easter has already seen 2016 get off to a cracking start for the network, with UKTV Play seeing views surging 185 per cent year-on-year across the long Bank Holiday weekend and the 10 channel network achieving a record-breaking audience share of 7.65 per cent on Sunday 27th March – the most successful day in its 23-year history.