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A month in ratings: highs and lows

The Winter Olympics has doubled BBC Two's all-day share of the audience, beating ITV for two weekends running. The channel saw the audience peak at 3.9 million when Jenny Jones landed the first medal for the UK on snow and daily highlights shows have been pulling in ratings of around two to three million.
While this week’s Brit Awards found its lowest audience since going live in 2007, at an average of 4.6 million, it was a twitter hit, with over four million tweets. One Direction heart throb Harry Styles was retweeted over 150,000 times.
After some real drama ratings successes at the start of the year, the BBC has seen a bit of a dip in its drama ratings, though nothing to send commissioners rushing to their in-box.
The sunshine-drenched detective show Death in Paradise on Tuesday evenings has seen a dip in ratings from launch of over seven million, though it’s still well above the six million mark. And The Musketeers which launched in January with 7.4 million viewers has been recommissioned, despite a dip in ratings just over five million for subsequent episodes.
Channel 4’s much anticipated comedy drama Babylon launched at the start of this month with a Danny Boyle directed opener which attracted  1.9 viewers, up against BBC Two’s Dragon’s Den which found an audience of 2.9 million.
ITV Saturday night show Splash! is reportedly facing the axe after a peak of just 4.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the final on Saturday night, compared to a peak of 6.5 million for the first series. This year it has been up against The Voice, which has put in a strong ratings performance for BBC One.
Channel 4 documentary ratings hit Benefits Street bowed out on 4.5 million earlier this month. While Channel 5 tapped into the show’s success with a live debate on benefits which pulled in over two million viewers.

Channel 5 also had a nice fillip in ratings when Jim Davidson won Celebrity Big Brother at the end of January. The live show clocked an average audience of 3.2 million.

Posted 21 February 2014 by Pippa Considine

Vice accelerates into production

As the one-time wild child Vice Media grows and ages, it's expanding its online content operation and making inroads into mainstream TV and film. The latest move is a partnership with FremantleMedia to create a multi-channel food platform.

The youth media company, launched as a punk magazine in 1994, has also been bolstering its own production capabilities, which have previously been all about producing documentary content for its online channel, finding directing talent.

Vice recently hired Channel 4 documentary commissioner Lina Prestwood as executive producer and Max Gogarty as development producer, both reporting into head of video Al Brown.

In 2013 Vice saw broadcast success in the US with its HBO series, also called Vice, which has been recommissioned for a second series.

Vice has signed a deal with UK-based indie Pulse Films to co-produce US TV projects and, at the end of last year, it landed a commission from BBC Four to co-produce a documentary with Raw TV on the illicit online market for drugs and weapons.

The new food platform will see Vice and FremantleMedia develop and produce digital content, which FremantleMedia will take to TV around the world. It allows FremantleMedia to extend its production in the digital space and Vice gets to work with FremantleMedia’s network of experts in global television production and distribution.
"Today's youth are the driving force behind the food culture explosion, yet they remain totally underserved when it comes to original food programming," says Andrew Creighton, president of Vice Media. “The new Vice food channel will upend the culinary media landscape, producing more jaw-droppingly entertaining original multi-channel food programming than anywhere else and ensuring the content reaches a global audience on every screen. We're stoked to say the least."
Vice has already recorded strong viewership around its existing food programming, including such series as Munchies, featuring the industry’s leading chefs such as Danny Bowen, Michael White, and Anthony Bourdain, and Fresh Off The Boat, a look into culture-defining global food trends hosted by the restaurant owner and writer Eddie Huang.
The Vice food vertical will focus on subjects ranging from the politics of food, to world travel and cuisine, to an irreverent look at home cooking. Vice will collaborate with FremantleMedia North America's original digital production team led by Gayle Gilman, as well as the FremantleMedia production teams around the world; the venture aims to deliver hundreds of hours of content in the first year.
The name and URL for the food venture will be announced in due course. Content from the venture will be available on multiple platforms, including alongside its other verticals Noisey (music), Motherboard (technology), The Creators Project (art), i-D (fashion), Thump (electronic dance), Fightland (MMA), and the forthcoming news vertical, VICE News.

Longer-term ambitions include experiential activities such as festivals and tastings; mobile extensions such as apps and a ‘food locator’ concierge service; social activity including full Facebook integration and UGC reviews and contributions; and licensed merchandise.
FremantleMedia launched its digital and branded entertainment division in 2013 to extend its role as a TV creator, producer and distributor onto emerging digital platforms. The company alerady consistently attracts 72 million+ unique users every month* and 7 billion views (2013) to its content on YouTube. It recently announced an investment in the multi-channel network Divimove and a co-production deal with fashion and lifestyle brand MCN StyleHaul.

Posted 19 February 2014 by Pippa Considine

UKTV is doing a Google, creating funky new offices

UKTV is doing a Google, with new headquarters in Hammersmith, designed by the same outfit behind Google's legendary office space, to be ready for 250 lucky UKTV staff by July.

Digital giant Google is well known for having friendly, state-of-the-art offices, with employee togetherness and work-life harmonies built in, cafe latte and ergonomically smooth furniture alongside slick technology.

The move signals a confidence at the Scripps/ BBC Worldwide-owned broadcaster, a clear message that the growing broadcast operation wants to attract and inspire staff and tell suppliers that it's a company that works collaboratively, despite having smaller programming budgets than the bigger players.

'Imagine more' is UKTV's mantra, which will be music to the ears of Penson, the leading interior design and architecture studios that has been behind award-winning spaces for Jay-z’s ROCNation and London College of Fashion, as well as Google, (see pics above and below).

"Together the companies will tackle an ambitious brief to create a UKTV headquarters that is inspirational, distinctive and built for innovation," says UKTV chief executive, Darren Childs.

The promise-to-be-funky new office will be designed across 32,500 sq. ft. of an ecologically-recognised development at 10 Hammersmith Grove, London.  

Over three floors of the development, there will be sociable working spaces, a café-bar and outdoor terrace, studio facilities and a screening room. The building is highly sustainable: one of the first in London to be entirely lit by LED lights and powered by solar panels.

“10 Hammersmith Grove will be a ground-breaking facility for UKTV,” says  Childs. “The new development increases the size of our current office and gives us the opportunity to create an inspirational working space fit for a broadcaster with a commitment to technology, imagination and the future of media. Technology will be at the heart of our progressive new workspace, and it will give everyone at UKTV the freedom to work creatively and collaboratively.”

Sarah Nelson, UKTV’s facilities director, is overseeing the move and will be responsible for the new facility at 10 Hammersmith Grove.
Forward-funded by the SWIP Property Trust for £50 million, 10 Hammersmith Grove is the first of two office buildings in the centre of Hammersmith, next to the underground station. It includes 110,000 sq. ft. of office space as well as extensive public areas, including three restaurant units at ground level.
News of the move comes after a good year for UKTV, which saw the network announcing an increase to £110 million investment in programming.  In 2013 the broadcaster also achieved its highest ever SOCI (share of commercial impacts) growth for advertisers and its highest ever total audience share, according to BARB data.
UKTV’s network of 10 channels span both the free-to-air and pay TV space and are available through Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, YouView, plus direct On Demand digital services. Within the last few weeks UKTV has extended its relationship with Sky, Virgin and YouView. UKTV’s full stable of channels are now available on Virgin TV Anywhere and its network of pay TV channels are available on Sky on Demand and Sky Go. In addition, last month saw seven day catch up services for Yesterday and Really join Dave on YouView.

Posted 19 February 2014 by Pippa Considine
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