More viewers flock to Discovery's UK channels

EFL on Quest

Discovery celebrates outperforming TV channels with strong growth recorded. But they're silent on the performance of some services...

During 2019, Discovery’s portfolio of free-to-air and pay TV channels outperformed the TV market in the UK, increasing its audience by 7%, in a market that declined by -4%.

Discovery celebrated its biggest one day share of viewers (5.4%) on 12th August 2019.

Meanwhile, Discovery’s Pay TV channels saw record numbers of on-demand requests in 2019, breaking over 60m which was an increase of 26% from 2018.

According to information released today by Discovery, free-to-air channel Quest achieved an average share of 1.5% amongst men, which was an increase of +13% compared to 2018. Its ratings successes was boosted by programmes including Salvage Hunters, Aussie Gold Hunters, Goblin Works Garage and The Repair Shop as well through sports coverage and a boost on the Freeview channel list, where it moved from channel 37 to 12, following a deal with UKTV which resulted in Quest taking Dave's old channel number.

More than 15m people watched sport on Quest including EFL highlights, British Superbike Championship, Home Nations Snooker and BDO World Darts Championship.

Meanwhile, DMAX, which replaced Travel Channel on Freeview and Freesat at the beginning of last year, saw its audience grow by 12 times.

DMAX was previously an obscure pay TV channel in the UK before going free-to-air. An episode of Alaskan Bush People was the most watched programme of 2019, with 193k viewers.

As reported in September, Discovery merged former UKTV channel Good Food with its existing Food Network channel. These changes resulted in Food Network achieving a record-breaking year, growing its share of adults by 33% year-on-year.  Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen achieved around 200k on the channel and was its biggest ever rating.

Quest Red recorded an 18% audience growth among adults, with UK commissions The Bad Skin Clinic and Katie Price: My Crazy Life leading the ratings.

Across Discovery's pay TV division, the main Discovery Channel saw record numbers of VOD requests in 2019 hitting more than 25m on its commercial partner sites. Shows including Gold Rush  and Wheeler Dealers continued to attract viewers.

Meanwhile, TLC consolidated its position as the home of extraordinary real life stories and characters, with the TLC UK YouTube account hitting 1 billion views. Vicky Pattison: The Break Up hit 378k and became TLC’s biggest ever rating for women. Series 2 of Dr. Pimple Popper returned with an average of 264k per episode and a ratings high of 324k for the series.

Eurosport was able to grow its male audience share by 10%, boosted through the channel's cycling coverage, tennis Grand Slams (Australian Open, Roland-Garros), Snooker World Championship and Africa Cup of Nations.

But the broadcaster stayed silent on the fortunes of Really and Home, the former UKTV channels it acquired alongside Good Food last year, opting for no comment on the performances of either channel.

Next week, Home is turning into HGTV UK, having already made changes to its schedule and programme line-up ahead of the rebrand.

Meanwhile, Really has been left as the odd one out, as it competes for female viewers against its sister free-to-air channels Quest Red and Home/HGTV, although having a more prominent Freeview channel slot. Of the three former UKTV channels acquired by Discovery, it's the only one that hasn't seen any major changes so far.

There's also been no announcement as to what Discovery will do the Travel Channel - which in the past year has continued to broadcast on Sky (channel 178), without any publicity or web presence.

Speaking about the results, James Gibbons, EVP and GM, Discovery Networks UK, Ireland, ANZ said:

In a year that Discovery celebrated its 30th anniversary and consolidated its ownership of the former Scripps and UKTV services, we celebrated stellar growth, with our share increasing by 11 percent organically, and 45 percent including the UKTV channel integration. 
We have focused single-mindedly on building passionate audiences in the key categories of lifestyle and entertainment, led by Clare Laycock, and factual and passion sport, led by Simon Downing. As a result we are now leaders in several important verticals, from Food to Weddings, and Motors to Cycling, delighting our engaged audiences. 
We have more than doubled both our audience and commercial share to more than seven percent, delivering significant value for advertisers and our commercial partners.  We are seeing burgeoning demand for our VOD content on partners platforms and a growing appetite for dplay, our AVOD direct to consumer streaming product. This year we will continue to increase our investment in great content, new products and services.