16 JAN 2024

UKTV achieves record growth in 2023 for the network and UKTV Play

Commercial broadcaster UKTV announced it achieved record growth in 2023 for the network and its free streaming service UKTV Play.

16 JAN 2024

"Signora Volpe"

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Commercial broadcaster UKTV announced it achieved record growth in 2023 for the network and its free streaming service UKTV Play. UKTV's SOCI (Share of Commercial Impacts) reached 8.81%, the highest ever for the seven channel network. The broadcaster also grew share by 5% to a record 4.92%, up from 4.70% last year, and it supercharged growth of UKTV Play with direct-to-consumer views increasing by 56% year-on-year, dwarfing the 27% growth the service enjoyed in 2022.

“It has been an extremely challenging year for the TV advertising market and the downward spiral has been much longer and deeper than many predicted. However, UKTV is weathering this storm well, achieving record SOCI and streaming growth last year as we continue to transform the business into a digital first and audience-led company,”  said Marcus Arthur, CEO of UKTV.

“UKTV has grown its network share by 5% and UKTV Play has increased views by 56%, fueled by over 1000 hours of new content joining the service. Views, active users and views per active user have all been up year-on-year across every month in 2023, with titles such as ‘Signora Volpe,’ ‘Bangers & Cash: Restoring Classics,’ ‘Sister Boniface Mysteries,’ and ‘Annika’ helping to drive growth. Moreover, six out of UKTV’s seven linear channels have enjoyed share growth, and UKTV Originals continue to go from strength to strength, with ten out of the top 20 shows on the network being originations. We have also celebrated awards success with Dave winning Channel of the Year at the Broadcast Digital Awards,”  Arthur added.


UKTV Play enjoyed growth across all metrics last year, with direct-to-consumer views growing by 56% and monetizable views by 48%. The new UKTV Play 3.0 app was rolled out across numerous platforms and devices including Google TV, Apple iOS, Android, Amazon Fire and Freeview, and all platforms witnessed year-on-year growth, most notably Amazon Fire, which was up 71%.

The Play catalogue now boasts over 7000 hours of content. Drama has been a key driver of growth for the service with shows such as “Signora Volpe,” “Mrs Sidhu Investigates,” “Sister Boniface Mysteries,” “Berlin Station,” “Atlantic Crossing,” “Annika,” “The Brokenwood Mysteries,” “Madam Secretary,” and “Smother” all featuring in the top 20 highest rating episodes on the service.

UKTV also launched four UKTV Play branded FAST channels in 2023 – UKTV Play Heroes, UKTV Play Laughs, UKTV Play Full Throttle and UKTV Play Uncovered – on Samsung TV, Amazon Freevee and Pluto TV, and aims to launch FAST channels directly on UKTV Play in the coming year.


Drama, W, Yesterday, Alibi, Gold and Eden all grew share in 2023 with a rich mix of original and acquired content helping to bolster growth. For example, hit show “Annika” returned to Alibi for a second series and became the highest rating programme on the channel and across the UKTV network last year, watched by 1.29 million. It helped propel Alibi to 16% share growth in 2023, aided by a strong slate of content including UK premiere “CSI: Vegas” and UKTV Original “The Diplomat.”

Yesterday benefitted from increased content investment with UKTV Originals accounting for nine out of 10 of the channel's top shows (“Secrets of the London Underground,” “Bangers & Cash,” “Bangers & Cash: Restoring Classics,” “Hornby: A Model World,” “Classic Car Garage,” “The Architecture the Railways Built,” “Retro Electro Workshop,” “Abandoned Engineering,” “Tony Robinson's Marvellous Machines”), resulting in 8% share growth for the channel.

Dave added to its silverware, winning Channel of the Year at the Broadcast Digital Awards. Judges called Dave "a brilliant jewel in the UKTV crown"  and noted the channel's commitment to paving the way with new comedy talent and diversity and inclusion. “Meet the Richardsons” was the highest rating show on the channel in 2023, with “World's Most Dangerous Roads,” “QI XL,” “David Mitchell's Outsiders,” and “Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled” rounding out the top five. Dave also enjoyed BAFTA recognition with nominations for “Big Zuu's Big Eats” and “Meet the Richardsons.”

Meanwhile, Drama enjoyed another stellar year averaging a 1.63% share (up 3% year-on-year). “Mrs Sidhu Investigates” and “Sister Boniface Mysteries” were the stand-out shows on the channel, both watched by over 1.2 million viewers. Gold (+13%), W (+16%) and Eden (+31%) also achieved share growth last year. “Blackadder: The Lost Pilot” was Gold's most successful show watched by 659,000 viewers, closely followed by “Blood Actually: A Murder They Hope Mystery,” “Alison & Larry: Billericay to Barry,” “Hancock's Half Hour in Colour,” and “Only Fools and Horses.” W achieved its best ever share of 0.55% with UKTV Original “Gemma” and “Gorka: Life Behind the Lens” featuring in the top five shows on the channel.

“2024 will be another tough year for commercial broadcasters with the advertising recession continuing to bite, but I am confident that UKTV will remain on its growth trajectory and I am looking forward to uniting UKTV's free TV and digital portfolio under new masterbrand U. Launching in the summer, UKTV Play will transition to U and our free-to-air linear channels will become U&Dave, U&Drama, U&W and U&Yesterday, better enabling us to leverage the brands within UKTV's real estate as we make ourselves fit for a digital future,”  Marcus Arthur concluded.