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Originals, Streaming Drive 4% Growth in Viewing at British TV Network UKTV

British broadcast network UKTV claimed a 4% rise in viewing last year, fueled by a spate of original programming and rapid growth for its on-demand service UKTV Play.

The 4% figure refers to an increase in “Share of Commercial Impacts,” a metric broadcasters employ to quantify viewing in the digital era for their advertisers, where one “impact” is one advert viewed by one person once.

UKTV’s slate of originals accounted for seven of its top 10 shows last year. On-demand service UKTV Play was the broadcaster’s fastest-growing brand, with year-on-year views up 43%, and more than three million users registered by year’s end. The company also expanded commercial revenue opportunities with UKTV Ventures, a multi-million-pound airtime for equity investment fund, which reached its first full year of operations in 2019.

The UKTV channels group was originally a joint venture between Scripps and BBC Studios, the British pubcaster’s commercial arm. After Discovery became a partner in UKTV by acquiring Scripps, the channel group was split between the two companies.

The deal saw BBC Studios take full ownership of entertainment nets Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, W and Yesterday, as well as the UKTV brand and the VOD service UKTV Play. Discovery took full control of lifestyle channels Really, Home and Good Food.

While several of the UKTV channels rely heavily on BBC catalog programming, the network has moved steadily into original commissioning. Top performing UKTV originals last year included “Taskmaster,” which has since moved to Channel 4, “Dad’s Army: The Lost Episodes,” “Emma Willis: Delivering Babies,” “Traces,” and “Expedition with Steve Backshall,” ordered jointly with BBC Two.

“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,” said Marcus Arthur, president of BBC Studios UK & Ireland and CEO of UKTV, adding that the network has more than doubled its 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,” he continued. “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.”

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