UKTV increases network share in 2020


13 January 2021

Lockdown boosts viewership

  • UKTV hit 8.07% share of commercial impacts (SOCI), with year-on-year growth of 4%
  • UKTV's network share grew by 3.2% to achieve 4.63%
  • Dave, Drama, Alibi, Eden and Gold all grew channel share
  • Despite the pandemic temporarily pausing production, UKTV Originals delivered the top five rating programmes on the network:
  • 1. feature-length Red Dwarf: The Promised Land
  • 2. Meet The Richardsons
  • 3. Ricky & Ralf's Very Northern Road Trip
  • 4. Bangers & Cash
  • 5. documentary series Red Dwarf: The First Three Million Years
  • Bangers & Cash became the highest rating programme ever on Yesterday
  • UKTV Play's direct to consumer service saw a 42% increase in views and ended the year with 4.45 million registered users

UKTV today announced that its channels and VOD service, UKTV Play, saw strong growth for share of commercial impacts (SOCI) and channel viewing thanks to high performing originals underpinned by viewers tuning in to enjoy nostalgic and archive programming, in a year that saw the world in major upheaval.

UKTV's CEO, Marcus Arthur, said:

At the start of last year no one could have predicted what was in store. The global pandemic turned life upside down and businesses were forced to quickly adapt and pivot to new ways of working. I'm incredibly proud of how the team came together during our first full year under BBC Studios ownership and embraced UKTV's unique challenger spirit to drive the business forward. While the pandemic temporarily paused production, UKTV was uniquely positioned with an incredibly rich archive of content which has been a much-appreciated source of joy for our viewers. This, alongside our strong pipeline of Originals, helped to deliver growth across all metrics in 2020.

"We will continue to build on this momentum throughout 2021 by increasing investment in original programming, strengthening our partnerships with the production community, and by growing our video on demand service, UKTV Play. We also look forward to outlining our growth strategy for key areas of podcasts and digital content."

Share of Commercial Impacts

UKTV grew its SOCI by 4% in 2020, up from 7.76% in 2019 to hit 8.07%. The network also grew its 16-34 SOCI from 5.61% to 5.82%. During the first lockdown, UKTV added over 0.9 SOCI points (16 March to 14 June vs 6 Jan to 15 March) and broke its own SOCI record in May. In fact, six out of 10 of UKTV's biggest ever SOCI months were in 2020.

UKTV network and channels growth

UKTV's seven channel network grew its viewing share by 3.2% last year to 4.63%, reaching over 18 million viewers a week. The network achieved year-on-year share growth for adults (+3.2%), 16-34s (+2.3%) and ABC1s (+5.3%). In addition, Dave (+3.0%), Drama (+9.6%), Gold (+1.7%), Eden (+2.9%) and Alibi (+7.1%) experienced growth, with Drama maintaining its position as the number one non-PSB owned channel in the UK.

The network also grew its social presence, launching Dave on TikTok and clocking up over 21m views for its video content across social platforms, as well as doubling down on YouTube by reinvigorating its Dave YouTube channel.


UKTV built on its commissioning success in 2020. Red Dwarf: The Promised Land (Dave), Meet the Richardsons (Dave), Ricky & Ralf's Very Northern Road Trip (Gold), Bangers & Cash (Yesterday) and Red Dwarf: The First Three Million Years (Dave) were the highest rating shows on the network with Red Dwarf: The Promised Land becoming Dave's most watched show in seven years (2.02 million, total consumption). Yorkshire classic car auction series Bangers & Cash also drove big numbers to Yesterday and became the highest rating show in the channel's history*, watched by 671k.

Richard Watsham, UKTV's Director of Commissioning, said: "The March lockdown put a stop to almost all of UKTV's productions, but since then the team have been working hard with our production partners to get every genre back up and running. We also focussed our creative energies on an important development period. 2021 will see our biggest ever investment in originations and we wanted to make sure that we were ready to go with our strongest slate yet."

Even with the reduction in premieres last year, we broke new ground, delivering UKTV's first BAFTA, Yesterday's highest ever rating show and Dave's best launch in seven years. The BAFTA is an achievement that we'll certainly savour, but with more new, ambitious scripted shows, innovative comedy entertainment and high quality factual than ever in the pipeline, we intend to be in the running for many more awards.

On Dave, which achieved its best SOCI performance since 2016, the success of Red Dwarf: The Promised Land was followed by Meet the Richardsons, which was watched by 1.13 million, making it the strongest launch of a brand-new original series on Dave in five years**. Big Zuu's Big Eats had one of the strongest ever 16-34 profiles of a UKTV Original on Dave, with 55% of the show's audience aged 16-34.

The evolution of crime drama channel Alibi also paid dividends with new scripted drama We Hunt Together becoming the highest rating show on the channel in 2020, watched by 602k. Produced by BBC Studios and written by Gaby Hull (Cheat, Two Weeks to Live), the 6x60' series has been commissioned for a second outing, joining Traces which will return to Alibi later this year, alongside brand new original drama series Annika, starring Nicola Walker. New 6x60' series The Diplomat, from World Productions, plans to start filming in Barcelona this year. In addition, acquired content performed strongly on Alibi, with stand-out performances from Miss Scarlet and the Duke, Tommy, Stumptown, and Hudson and Rex.

Gold proved a hit during the turbulence of last year as viewers sought out nostalgia and comforting family favourites, resulting in the channel's best Q2 SOCI performance since 2011. However, it was once again UKTV Originals that topped the ratings chart. Ricky & Ralf's Very Northern Road Trip was the best performing title on Gold and achieved the accolade of being the biggest ever non-scripted title on the channel watched by 818k. Original scripted comedy, Sandylands, was second, followed by a third UKTV Original, The Fast Show: Just A Load Of Blooming Catchphrases.

Drama enjoyed a record-breaking year, recording its best quarterly shares ever in Q2 and Q3 and achieving its highest ever SOCI in May (2.8% SOCI share). Yesterday also tasted SOCI success in May with its highest SOCI since 2014 and once again, UKTV Originals were the highest performing titles on the channel. The superb performance of Bangers & Cash, winner of two regional RTS awards, was followed by Dad's Amy: The Lost Episodes (567k) and The Architecture The Railways Built (502k). On W, Emma Willis: Delivering Babies picked up its second consecutive Broadcast Digital Award for Best Popular Factual. The channel also grew SOCI and saw strong performances from Masterchef Australia and Inside the Ambulance. Finally, Eden grew its impacts by 70% in August with stand-out performances from the BBC's blue-chip natural history programming including Dynasties and Spy in the Snow.


UKTV's video on demand service, UKTV Play, grew its direct-to-consumer views by 42% in 2020 and increased registered users by 45% to 4.45million. The service is available on 21 platforms and across pay and free it is on target to achieve 243m views, which will be an increase of 17% on 2019's total. Standout hits on the service included Red Dwarf: The Promised Land, The Bill: The Early Years, Meet The Richardsons, EastEnders and Hypothetical.

Upcoming shows

There's a plethora of new and returning shows for viewers to look forward to on UKTV's channels over the coming months. New to Dave is Mel Geidroyc: Unforgiveable, a panel show with a twist where three celebrity guests take part in a competitive 'confession off'; the more awful their sins, the more likely they are to win. It will be joined on the channel by a brand new 10x60' series of Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled and new episodes of Big Zuu's Big Eats. Over on Yesterday, viewers can indulge in new episodes of The Architecture The Railways Built, or delve into Secrets of the Transport Museum. W is back on the beat with more episodes of Women on The Force and Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over also returns for a second series. Fans of scripted drama can look forward to second series of Traces and We Hunt Together on Alibi later this year, along with new 6x60' UKTV Original, Annika, which is currently in production in Scotland.

For more information, please contact:
Kerry Goode, Head of Communications - UKTV and BBC Studios Distribution UK
Ali Laurie, Publicist - UKTV and BBC Studios Distribution UK

- All data BARB Adults 16+ except programme data which is individuals ran to 3 decimal places.
- Weekly Reach based on WK. 1 (w/c 30.12.19) to WK. 53 (w/c 03.01.21) - 3 days partial consolidation.
- Top performing programme lists are 4+ Dovetail (TV and Online Pre-Broadcast and 1-7 Day)
*Bangers & Cash became the highest rating programme ever on Yesterday - highest rating = highest individual episode
** programme comparison pre-Dovetail years is based on 7-day consolidated for fair comparison
- Programme viewing stats are all Total Consumption unless otherwise stated. Total Consumption is the measurement of all viewing to a single premiere linear transmission of a show. It encompasses the overnight, PVR, VOD, D2C and paid, narrative repeats within seven days of the broadcast window, and the 8-28-day PVR viewing within BARB.
- UKTV Play figures include third party broadcasters and UKTV's own platform data.
- UKTV Play top rating episodes are for the UKTV Play direct to consumer service.
- Lockdown data was from Week 12-24 (16 March to 14 June vs 6 Jan to 15 March)

About UKTV

UKTV has been at the forefront of branded television for over 25 years, entertaining the nation with programmes they love. Its leading brands - Dave, Gold, W, Drama, Alibi, Eden and Yesterday - span comedy, entertainment, natural history, factual and drama, and are delivered to audiences through UKTV Play, Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, YouView, Freesat and Amazon Fire. The broadcaster is a significant investor in British creativity and is committed to working with new and established writers, directors and programme-makers.

UKTV is part of BBC Studios, the UK's most-awarded production company, a world-class distributor with international branded services, and a commercial subsidiary of the world's leading public service broadcaster, the BBC. | | @uktvpress