Homegrown fare boosts ITV2 ratings

Weblet won 2.02% share of viewing in homes with access to the digital channels for 2005

LONDON — U.K. digital auds prefer homegrown fare, according to end-of-year viewing figures that also show commercial weblet ITV2 overtook satcaster Sky One for the first time as Blighty’s most popular digital web.

While Sky One’s schedule is based on U.S. shows like “The Simpsons,” ITV2 pulls in its biggest audiences for spinoffs from ITV1 homegrown hits such as reality skein “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here” and talent show “The X-Factor.”

ITV2 won a 2.02% share of viewing in homes with access to the digital channels for 2005. Sky One scored 1.89% while Sky Sports 1 was third, attracting 1.73%.

Ratings to Dec. 29 demonstrate the strength of digital terrestrial platform Freeview in helping a channel boost auds — ITV2, ITV3, E4 and BBC3, all available on Freeview, each built their share during the year.

ITV3, aimed at over-35s and featuring classic ITV shows plus repeats of Hollywood movies, and youth-skewed BBC3 made their debut in the multichannel top 10 at Nos. 8 and 9 respectively.

Famed for introducing cult comedy “Little Britain” (shown on BBC America) to British auds, BBC3 grew its audience share by nearly 30% year-on-year.

E4, whose most popular shows are repeats of “Friends” and spinoffs from “Big Brother,” was the fourth-most-popular digital station, up from sixth a year ago.

Its success suggests that Channel 4, which owns E4, was right to move E4 onto Freeview and end its status as a pay service.

Other channels in the multichannel top 10 were Flextech-owned UKTV Gold/UKTV Gold+1 (fifth), BBC kids’ service CBeebies (sixth), Flextech’s Living/Living+1 (seventh) and Hallmark (10th).

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