29 NOV 2023

UKTV to create "U", a new brand to unite its free TV and digital portfolio

Launching in Summer 2024, the move will see its current streaming service UKTV Play transition to U and UKTV's family of free-to-air channels will become U&Dave, U&DRAMA, U&YESTERDAY and U&W.

29 NOV 2023

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UKTV today announced its intention to launch 'U' next year, a new masterbrand that will unite its family of free-to-air channels and its free streaming service. Launching in Summer 2024, the move will see its current streaming service UKTV Play transition to U and UKTV's family of free-to-air channels will become U&Dave, U&DRAMA, U&YESTERDAY and U&W. The U streaming service, created in partnership with global brand consultancy Wolff Olins, will become home to thousands of hours of free content from a raft of genres, including: drama (Annika, Holby City, Madam Secretary, Sister Boniface Mysteries, A Million Little Things), comedy (Meet the Richardsons, Red Dwarf, Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, We Are Not Alone), entertainment (Big Zuu's Big Eats, David Mitchell's Outsiders, QI, Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable, World's Most Dangerous Roads), and factual entertainment (Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over, Masterchef Australia, Katie Piper: Jailhouse Mums, Secrets of the London Underground, Bangers & Cash). U will also give viewers access to exclusive shows, award-winning originals, premiere acquisitions and iconic programmes from the BBC.

Penny Brough, UKTV's Chief Marketing Officer, said: "For 30 years, UKTV has had shows that people are passionate about - crime, drama, witty comedy and more - but until now it's felt disconnected. We want to make sure our audiences can enjoy the full value of our free and wonderfully diverse offer, so we're making it easier for them to navigate. U is the glue that enables us to do this: it means we go to market with a bold, simple and distinctive identity for our streaming service. U makes it easy for people to connect the dots between the streaming service and our family of TV channels - all while keeping hold of each channel's unique personality and fame. This is now a family that's fit for a digital future. It's simple, but still full of personality because it's all about U."

David Stevens, Executive Strategy Director at Wolff Olins, added: "The entertainment market is so awash with confusing and bizarrely named offers, so we wanted to strip back, reduce the noise and present this family of brands in a clear, crisp, singular way. The new 'U' name is a nod to UKTV's heritage, while emphasising that this new viewing experience is all about you. We're excited about creating a bold brand that will stand out but won't get in the way. We wanted to unite an eclectic portfolio, but hold onto the personality, and help you to lose yourself in what you love."

UKTV has an ambitious growth strategy, focussed on supercharging its streaming service and growing its linear channels. A key driver of this is connecting and better leveraging the brands within UKTV's estate. The launch of this new masterbrand supports this strategy by making it easier for users to navigate both online and on-air, as well as creating a halo effect in brand marketing across the portfolio and ultimately building equity into a more unified family of brands. The simplicity of the new U brand architecture also retains the names and equity of the existing channel brands that are well-known and loved across the UK.

As part of the company's transformation plans, UKTV Play has already evolved into a digital streaming destination with a plethora of free content to suit all tastes. Its popularity has propelled the service to grow views by 69% since the start of the year (Jan-Aug), and with FAST channels set to debut on the service in 2024, viewers have even more choice to look forward to. The new U visual identity and brand architecture is set to be unveiled in 2024. Wolff Olins is working alongside UKTV's own in-house Creative team on a suite of assets for the rebrand, which will simultaneously launch across UKTV's free-to-air channels and its streaming service next year. UKTV's pay channels Alibi, Gold and Eden will transition to U&alibi, U&GOLD, U&eden at a later date, uniting the full network under the U brand.