Original programming boosts slimlined UKTV network

UKTV reported another year of growth, despite the sale of three of its channels in 2019, with many of its channels achieving new highs on the back of new original programming.

The UKTV seven channel portfolio grew its adult Share of Commercial Impacts (SoCI) by 5% following the BBC Studios' acquisition of the business. The broadcaster also saw a 14% increase for younger audiences (16-34s).

UKTV's growth in 2019 was achieved despite the separation of three channels Really, Good Food and Home, which came under the control of Discovery. UKTV increased overall adult SoCI year-on-year from a five-year low of 7.48% in 2018 to 7.76% in 2019 making it the fifth biggest network in the UK.

Dave, which is now classed as the broadcaster's "flagship comedy channel", ranked number one non-PSB channel for 16-34s. Drama had its best year since launching in 2013.

On demand service UKTV Play became the fastest growing brand for the broadcaster year-on-year with views up 43%, ending the year with more than three million registered users achieved by Christmas 2019.

Yesterday continued to deliver strong ratings and profile with its broad slate of original factual programming achieving its best year since 2013. Train Truckers launched in Q3 to 386k and was the second highest rated show on Yesterday in 2019. UKTV Original Abandoned Engineering delivered for the channel, with series four launching to 410k viewers, averaging 327k across the series.

Eden continued to shine a light on nature's curiosities, watched by over 1.4m adults per month in 2019 and delivered its best quarter (Q3) in over a year, up +20% year-on-year.

On Gold, UKTV Original Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes was the highest rating programme this year, with the first episode watched by 963k viewers. It was also the second most watched show ever on the channel. 

Overall, UKTV Original commissions saw their best year ever accounting for seven out of the top 10 programmes across the network. Top performing UKTV Originals include Taskmaster, Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes (Gold), The Cockfields (Gold), Dial M for Middlesbrough (Gold), Emma Willis: Delivering Babies (W), Traces (Alibi), Hypothetical (Dave) and Expedition with Steve Backshall, co-commissioned with BBC Two (Dave) among others.

The second series of Emma Willis: Delivering Babies achieved a series peak of 476k viewers for episode four. Overall, it was the highest performing series on pay TV channel W in 2019, with 38% of viewers aged 16-34.

Traces, the first UKTV Original commission on Alibi, launched to 660k viewers in its first seven days, making it the channel's biggest launch since 2011.

Marcus Arthur, President of BBC Studios UK & Ireland and CEO of UKTV said:
We are a significant investor in British creativity and committed to working with new and established on and off-screen talent and producers, which has been demonstrated by our strong slate and success in 2019. We've more than doubled our development budget in the last 12 months and worked with nine new production partners.
Our vibrant channel brands foster loyalty in an increasingly complex landscape and offer advertisers targeted reach and a safe environment for their ad campaigns. Looking ahead we are set for growth with ambitious plans for our original commissioning and innovation across video-on-demand. We are looking to operate on a worldwide scale, creating bold, ambitious shows building on our 2019 UKTV Original successes including Traces, Expedition with Steve Backshall, and new for 2020, We Hunt Together.