Comedy helps UKTV achieve upsurge in Q1 viewing figures


Award-winning network UKTV has released consolidated viewing figures from the first quarter of the year and announced its highest ever Q1 share of viewing (4.73%)* with UKTV Originals continuing to entice viewers. Popular channels DaveDramaGoldYesterday and Alibi have all experienced growth between January 1 and March 31 as well as on-demand service UKTV Play. In addition, younger viewers (16-34) have flocked to the network, 10% more than this time last year. February and March were also record months for SOCI.

CEO Marcus Arthur said:

UKTV achieved record viewing in 2020 and I’m so pleased to see that momentum continuing into the first quarter of this year, driven by brilliant programming – be that our original shows, global acquisitions or viewer favourites from the BBC archive. 

Starting the year with a strong SOCI, viewing share, impressive ratings and more viewers than ever, particularly 16-34s, is evidence that our growth strategy is on the right trajectory. It is also testament to the hard work of colleagues across the business throughout a difficult year for many. As we enter and adapt to another period of change, everyone here at UKTV is focussed on continuing to deliver brilliant new shows for viewers to enjoy.

Share of commercial impacts (SOCI)

For UKTV’s seven channel network, it has achieved a record share of commercial impacts for the months of February and March, 8.08% and 8.72% respectively**. Compared with the same period last year, UKTV has grown its overall SOCI by 8.3% to reach 8.32%.

The standout channel is Drama, which had its highest SOCI on record in March (2.98%), significantly higher than its previous highest SOCI month which was 2.80% in May last year.

AlibiDaveGold and Yesterday have also achieved SOCI growth during this time.

UKTV’s SOCI for 16-34s has also grown to 6.12%, the best the network has seen for six years.

In addition, Dave has had 29% y-o-y SOCI growth for 16-34s for the quarter.

Channels growth and programme highlights

UKTV’s seven channel network has grown its viewing share to 4.73% between January 1 and March 31 2021 – the broadcaster’s highest ever Q1 share and a y-o-y growth of 8.6%. It has also achieved y-o-y share growth for adults (+8.6%), 16-34s (+10.1%) and ABC1s (11.2%).

Comedy entertainment channel Dave has witnessed a significant number of 16-34s tuning in throughout the first quarter of the year, 20% more compared with the same period last year. This is thanks to new and returning UKTV Originals including Mel Giedroyc: UnforgivableMeet the Richardsons (S2) and Hypothetical (S3). The channel has also increased its viewing share by 4% y-o-y.

Drama, which recently launched a +1 channel on Freeview, has continued to entertain audiences with its range of much-loved shows. The channel has remained the number one non-PSB owned channel in the UK, its share is up 17% y-o-y, and March was its best month ever. Death in Holy Orders, the feature-length murder-mystery thriller based on the PD James book, consolidated to 696k viewers, the channel’s second highest TX for a show ever and the most watched show on the channel for the year so far. Last Of The Summer Wine and Death in Paradise make up the other top shows on Drama for Q1 2021.



UKTV Original shows have proved popular with viewers on Gold and WThe Vicar of Dibley: Inside Out launched on 6th March on Gold to 577k viewers, the best performing retrospective since The Story of Only Fools and Horses in 2017. It has also had a positive impact on viewing figures for the original Vicar of Dibley archive which is the third highest rating show on the channel for the quarter. On WEmma Willis: Delivering Babies in 2020 has had one of the strongest 16-34 profiles for a UKTV commission on the channel with 66% of the show’s audience aged 16-34.

UKTV Play has enjoyed a 41% increase in direct-to-consumer views y-o-y in Q1 2021 driven by The Bill: The Early Years and Yesterday’s returning original series Bangers and Cash, the sixth most popular title on the service.

Richard Watsham, UKTV’s Director of Commissioning, said:

I’m pleased to see Bangers and Cash taking Yesterday‘s ratings to new heights. The team has done a fantastic job, with our brilliant production partners, to populate the channel’s schedule with a number of high rating, high quality hits.

After a busy development period during lockdown, we’re now well positioned to continue that growth across the network with our highest ever commissioning budget in place for the next 12 months and a number of exciting projects waiting in the wings. Alibi has a whole host of gripping new crime series in production for later this year and early next. Annika, starring the incredible Nicola Walker, Ragdoll, a dark thriller from Sid Gentle, the makers of Killing Eve, as well as World Productions’ The Diplomat, and second series of We Hunt Together and Traces, which performed well on BBC1 and iPlayer too.

On Dave, the successful arrival of Mel Giedroyc: Unforgiveable heralds a new wave of comedy entertainment shows in the coming months. These are joined by another helping of multi-RTS nominee, Big Zuu’s Big Eats, and on the scripted side there’s a new series of Samson Kayo’s Sliced. Coming soon to Gold is the latest evolution of Jason Cook’s high performing Murder on the Blackpool Express franchise, Murder, They Hope, starring Sian Gibson and Johnny Vegas. And these are just a few examples of what we have coming up. UKTV Originals are in rude health and well positioned to continue contributing to UKTV’s strong growth. 

Also coming soon is French and Saunders: Funny Women, a brand new special for Gold which will see the much-loved duo celebrating the crucial and unforgettable contributions from women throughout the history of comedy, as well as Smother, an Irish investigative thriller starring Dervla Kirwan (The StrangerSafe House) and Seána Kerslake (Hole in the Ground), and many more UKTV Originals and global acquisitions.


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