Key programming events of the month in the UK
BBC1’s 30 year celebration of its primetime soap, EastEnders, culminating in a live episode and a long-term plot revelation, resulted in a substantial audience for the network (11.6m) and also stimulated significant Twitter reaction (over 1 million Tweets).
During the month, BBC1 harnessed the power of its major programme brands – Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off – in order to link with the long-running Comic Relief charity event which takes place on Friday 13 March.
BBC2 has majored on drama having seen Wolf Hall open with almost 6m viewers at the end of January. The drama continued to rate well, and was supplemented with documentaries – the controversial Re-inventing the Royals made it to the screen (2.1m) and with an election only months away, Inside the Commons had unprecedented access to Britain’s lawmakers (1.7m).
Much of what the BBC is broadcasting at the moment is with one eye on May’s election and the subsequent process of BBC Charter negotiations.
Much of what the BBC is broadcasting at the moment is with one eye on May’s election and the subsequent process of BBC Charter negotiations, which will begin in earnest with the government after the election. BBC Director General Tony Hall has confirmed that the plan to hive off in-house production is continuing – all production departments, other than Children’s, Sport and Current Affairs, will form a new division, and negotiations will commence for it to be turned into a stand-alone commercial division.
Meanwhile, the plan to turn BBC3 into an online only proposition continues to be challenged by independent producers who have offered to buy it – an offer rejected by the BBC. BBC3 benefited from an association with EastEnders when EastEnders Backstage Live had an audience of 2.26m, but the school-based drama serial Waterloo Road has aired its final episode (having been transferred from BBC1) – by late February it was rating lower (698,000) than the observational documentary series Bangkok Airport (820,000 ).
Figures released in February for the iPlayer show the scale of use in January as a result of the upsurge in new tablet and mobile sales at Christmas. With 264m TV requests, this was BBC iPlayer’s best-ever month for TV viewing. Requests increased +3% month-on-month to and +9% year on year. Mobile and tablet requests accounted for over half of all TV requests in the month.
ITV’s acquisition strategy has continued with the announcement of discussions to acquire Talpa Media.
ITV’s second series of Broadchurch drew to a close at the end of February (7.5m). The major live programming was The Brits which generated 2m Tweets. On ITV2 The Keith Lemon Sketch Show launched with an impressive 1.47m and was that network’s top-performing programme of the month.
Channel 4 focussed on India, initially with Guy Martin’s hugely successful travelogue Our Guy In India (in the week ending 8 February, it was the top C4 show of the week with 2.84m viewers), which was followed up with the drama series, Indian Summers. This rated very well with over 5m on its opening episode, Channel 4’s best performing drama in two decades, resulting in the commissioning of a second series. Factual continues to examine key groups – The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds rated well; Immigration Street proved more problematic.
Indian Summers rated well and was Channel 4’s best performing drama in two decades.
For Channel 5, with January’s Celebrity Big Brother success behind it, attention turned to the ‘caveman reality’ show 10,000 BC. The series gained viewing figures of around 1.3m and has been re-commissioned for a second series.
MTV’s Ex on the Beach has been performing particularly well when compared to the network’s number two show of the week. In mid-February Ex on the Beach had an audience of 799,000 viewers compared with the next highest rated show, Teen Mom 2, with 211,000 viewers. Strong Twitter reaction to the show has kept awareness of it high as it regularly tops the Daily Kantar Twitter TV leader board on the day of broadcast.
Sky Atlantic’s big drama, Fortitude, opened with 1.53m, although had dropped off a little to 1.15m by the week ending 1 March.
The much anticipated medical drama, Critical, opened on Sky One with 780,000 viewers and was sixth best show of the week ending 1 March.
On E4 Brooklyn Nine Nine performed very strongly with an audience of 970,000 viewers in the final week of February.
Philip Reevell writes about broadcasting and media matters.
- The audience information in this report is drawn from BARB’s consolidated weekly viewing data available to the public on the BARB website. The Twitter TV data comes from the weekly Kantar Twitter TV Rating leader boards.