UKTV, the multichannel service operated by BBC Studios, says that views of its free UKTV Play online video service grew by 56% in 2023, compared to 27% the year before. UKTV, which is bringing all its services under the masterbrand “U” umbrella also grew is share of commercial impacts to 8.8%, the highest ever for the seven-channel network.

No absolute numbers were given for views on UKTV Play, although views to videos on social media averaged 28 million a month. The highest rating progamme across the UKTV network in 2023 was Annika, an original drama series, watched by 1.29 million. For the previous year, UKTV reported 6.45 million registered users of UKTV Play.

A new UKTV Play app was rollout out across numerous platforms and devices, including iOS and Android, Google TV, and Amazon Fire. The Play catalogue now has over 7,000 hours of programming.

UKTV also launched four online channels on Samsung TV, Amazon Freevee, and Pluto TV. It aims to bring them to the UKTV Play app as well.

Marcus Arthur, the chief executive of UKTV, said: “It’s been an extremely challenging year for the TV advertising market and the downward spiral has been much longer and deeper than many predicted. However, UKTV is weathering this storm well, achieving record SOCI and streaming growth last year as we continue to transform the business into a digital first and audience-led company.”

“2024 will be another tough year for commercial broadcasters with the advertising recession continuing to bite,” he said, “but I’m confident that UKTV will remain on its growth trajectory and I’m looking forward to uniting UKTV’s free TV and digital portfolio under new masterbrand U.”

UKTV is to bring its online player and channels under the U umbrella master brand

Launching in the summer, UKTV Play will transition to “U” and the free-to-air television channels will become known as U&Dave, U&DRAMA, U&W, and U&YESTERDAY. The Pay television channels Alibi, Gold and Eden will receive a similar treatment later.

When the U brand was announced, Penny Brough, the chief marketing officer for UKTV, described “U” as the glue that connected its online service and television channels. “This is now a family that’s fit for a digital future,” she said. “It’s simple, but still full of personality because it’s all about U.”

The identity was created in partnership with global brand consultancy Wolff Olins.