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UKTV plots uptick in originals investment

UK-based channels group UKTV plans to increase investment in its original programming this year.

Richard WatshamRichard Watsham (pictured), UKTV’s director of commissioning, said in a statement issued to TBI: “Twenty-sixteen was a landmark year for UKTV’s original output. We worked with more production companies and produced shows across more genres than ever before, which resulted in six out ten of the network’s top shows being UKTV originals.

“This year our ambition is to increase investment in our original output further and create even more channel-defining UKTV originals for viewers to enjoy.”

UKTV  doubled the number of independent production companies it works with between 2015 and 2016 as part of its focus on original programming.

Flagship channel Dave has led a commissioning drive, with its originals taking eight out of the top ten slots in the channel’s ratings list, and attracting strong engagement on the on-demand service UKTV Play.

The planned investment comes as UKTV saw a viewing share of original programming of up to 7.3% in 2016, according to BARB data.

UKTV is also projecting 7.7% growth of its share of commercial impacts (SOCI) to 9.87%, an end-of-year record high. This is higher than that of Channel 5’s full portfolio and Sky’s fully owned channels for the second year running, BARB’s figures show.

The channel operator, which is co-owned by BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks International, has eleven brands, including Good Food, Alibi and Gold, which account for around 10% of the commercial market. Last year it spent £148 million (US$183 million) on programming and related launches.

Furthermore, UKTV Play reported a 74% increase in direct-to-consumer views year-on-year. UKTV originals saw 179% growth in streams from the 2015 figure. Downloads of the UKTV Play app were also up 98%.