UKTV has seen on-demand viewing surge 639 per cent in the first half of 2014.
The independent broadcast, whose network includes Dave, Gold, Watch, Yesterday and Drama, has had a successful year, with revenues now at a record £278 million.
The growth has been attributed to its expansion as a commissioning business as well as the increasing popularity of its channels. UKTV has invested in three strategic areas in the past 12 months: content, digital distribution and new channels, including the launch of successful new channel Drama. Once these costs are stripped out, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) jumped 7 per cent to £76.7 million.
That kind of investment in content, distribution and channels has already seen UKTV’s reach grow this year, with Monty Python Live premiering on Gold and securing the channel its highest ever rating of 700,000 viewers. UKTV has also secured The Strain (pictured), Guillermo del Toro’s new vampire series, as an exclusive for the channel Watch.
As part of the broadcaster’s investment, inevitably, is a shift towards online streaming: Yesterday, Really and Dave were added to YouView’s line-up of catch-up channels while GOLD recently joined Sky’s NOW TV selection. That focus on VOD culminated in the launch this summer of UKTV Play, the company’s first interactive, digital-only VOD service for its free-to-view channels (Yesterday, Really and Dave).
The move was partly driven by the rise in non-linear viewing among customers: in the first six months of 2014, UkTV has seen the number of video-on-demand viewing increase by 639 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.
In terms of traditional distribution, long term carriage deals were signed with both Sky an Virgin Media during the year – plus a new distribution agreement was made with YouView.
Darren Childs, chief executive, comments: “Investment is key to our future growth. These results show that the more we put in, the more we get out, and I am delighted that so many of our original programmes are amongst our top titles and selling so well internationally. UKTV is changing its role in the market, moving to the front and centre of everyone’s attention whether they be producers, talent, advertisers, or, most importantly, viewers. We are becoming an increasingly significant investor in UK creativity.
“This is a really significant phase in UKTV’s story, when we move from challenger to contender and 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.”
“We are widening our distribution and broadening the viewer’s chances for seeing our shows,” he adds. “This is a modern TV company, fit for the future.”