UKTV presses Play with first digital-only service

UK multichannel operator UKTV is launching its first direct-to-consumer digital service this summer.

Darren Childs1UKTV Play will offer programming from UKTV channels such as Dave and Watch as “familiar and intuitive” curated collections, by topic, box sets and ‘staff picks’, as well advance previews of upcoming shows. Features include swipe channel selection, stop-and-resume viewing, predictive search, an alphabetical browser and parental controls.

The service will replace the standalone VOD platforms for Dave, Yesterday and Really, though these will still offered as channels brands within UKTV Play.

“UKTV Play will be as easy as switching on your TV,” said UKTV CEO Darren Childs. “We will curate content by topics and events, so UKTV Play will take away the difficulty that some viewers find with video on demand: choosing what it is they want to watch.“

It will soft-launch on iOS devices this summer, with PC and YouView versions available by the end of the year.

Storage Hunters, Crackanory, Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled, Dara O Briain: School of Hard Sums and Inquisition will all be available, as will a range of BBC programmes. Box set series offer include Lizard Lick Towing, 24 Hours to Go Broke, Black Ops and Museum Secrets.

“We’ve launched UKTV Play because data shows our viewers will find more programming and engage with our channels more regularly if they have a single destination for on-demand viewing,” said UKTV’s director, commercial and business development Dan Fahy.

He is working alongside new general manager for VOD, Emma Boston on the launch. Boston was handed that new role last month as part of a commissioning structure shake-up that saw her pick up the channel manager duties at Really, Eden, Good Food and Home after incumbent Claire Laycock announced a move to Discovery-owned TLC.

UKTV’s head of VOD Kim Morris will oversee editorial content, while director of operations and technology Ben Hine and his team are building the service.

UKTV, which is joint-owned by the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks International, says it is currently the fastest-growing commercial broadcaster in the UK with a reach of more than 42 million viewers a month across its channels bouquet.

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