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UKTV reports growth in Originals and on-demand viewing

UKTV's on-demand service saw a 36% year-on-year increase in views, as viewers flocked to new original content screened by the multi-channel operator.

In what might be UKTV's last full calendar year in its current form, UKTV Originals topped 2018 ratings across six of its channels - Dave, W, Gold, Drama, Yesterday and Really.

Top three shows on UKTV's network were UKTV Originals Taskmaster, Death on the Tyne and Murder on the Blackpool Express. The latest series of Taskmaster gained an average of 1.5 million viewers per episode.

During 2018, Emmy and BAFTA nominated Taskmaster became the most watched show on UKTV's free on demand service, UKTV Play, followed by UKTV Originals Judge Romesh and Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier.

UKTV was originally conceived two decades ago, primarily as a broadcaster that would repeat former BBC programming. In the past ten years, the broadcaster has reduced its reliance on repeats, commissioning an ever-increasing amount of its own programmes. Industry reports suggest that the broadcaster is close to being carved up between its joint owners BBC Studios and Discovery.

UKTV Play's 36% year-on-year increase translated to over 140 million views in 2018, attracting 1.8 million registered users. The increase came as the on-demand service was added to additional connected TV services, including on Now TV and Roku streaming players, Freesat, Samsung TV and Go Media.

Pay channel W's most watched programme in 2018 was UKTV Original Emma Willis: Delivering Babies, which attracted 753,000 viewers. The Yesterday channel grew its share by an impressive 11.4%, with Abandoned Engineering becoming the most popular show on the channel.

Darren Childs, UKTV CEO, said:
Our strategy of creating distinctive, ambitious and compelling new shows is continuing to pay off. I'm incredibly proud that for the first time, UKTV Originals were the top rating shows on six of UKTV's channels and on UKTV Play last year. The breadth and depth of our channels offer a rich mix of opportunities for advertisers, and UKTV Play, which generated over 140 million views and attracted 1.8 million registered users in 2018, provides a data rich environment for targeted advertising. 

Richard Watsham, UKTV's Director of Commissioning, said:
UKTV is increasing investment into originations yet again and in partnership with top talent, both in front of and behind the camera, it's enabling us to strengthen our catalogue of popular and critically acclaimed shows.  This year our aim is to grow original output even further with a series of network firsts. Flack, our first full blown drama series premieres on W in February. We'll shortly be in production for a number of crime dramas for Alibi, and Steve Backshall will bring high octane specialist factual to Dave with the stunning Expedition.
We want to build on our strong talent relationships too, Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over kicks off a revitalized slate for W which still has slots to fill and on Dave we're looking for female fronted comedy entertainment shows to compliment other high performing hits, led by Taskmaster."