UK Ratings Snapshot, 1H 2017: The Sizzling 60 Documentaries & Lifestyle Hits

It’s always a pleasure to share my semi-annual report card on the top-rated UK documentary and lifestyle programs.

I enjoy the compelling diversity and quality of the UK industry.

SIZZLING SIXTY

Here are the Top 60 Documentaries, Lifestyle & Current Affairs programs for UK through June 30, 2017 (in thousands).

Channel Programme ‘000
1 BBC 1 Countryfile 7,670
2 BBC 1 Antiques Roadshow 6,506
3 BBC 1 Masterchef 6,474
4 BBC 1 Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum + Dad 6,345
5 BBC 1 Spy in the Wild 6,218
6 BBC 1 Antiques Roadshow Holocaust Memorial 6,076
7 BBC 1 The Real Marigold Hotel 5,999
8 BBC 1 Our Friend Victoria 5,397
9 ITV The Real Full Monty 5,362
10 BBC 1 Who Do You Think You Are? 5,242
11 BBC 1 Watchdog 4,869
12 BBC 1 DIY SOS: The Big Build 4,824
13 BBC 1 The Truth About Sleep 4,704
14 BBC 1 The One Show 4,670
15 BBC 1 Panorama: Madeleine McCann: 10 y 4,474
16 ITV Britain’s Busiest Airport Heathrow 4,309
17 BBC 1 The Met: Policing London 4,224
18 ITV Martin Clunes: Islands of Australia 4,222
19 ITV The Cruise: Sailing the Mediterranean 4,216
20 BBC 1 Galapagos 4,173
21 BBC 1 Shop Well for Less? 4,104
22 BBC 1 Eat Well for Less? 4,095
23 CH4 Gogglebox 4,068
24 BBC 1 Reported Missing 4,051
25 ITV The Martin Lewis Money Show 4,004
26 BBC 1 Week the Landlords Moved In 3,982
27 BBC 2 The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway 3,908
28 BBC 1 Supermarket Shopping Secrets 3,861
29 BBC 1 Italy’s Invisible Cities 3,859
30 ITV Sugar Free Farm 3,840
31 BBC 1 Panorama 3,823
32 BBC 1 Spy in the Wild: Meet the Spies 3,784
33 BBC 2 Top Gear 3,767
34 BBC 1 East Africa Crisis Appeal 3,635
35 ITV Britain’s Best Walks / Julia Bradbury 3,619
36 ITV Save Money: Good Health 3,559
37 ITV Long Lost Family: What Happened Next 3,524
38 BBC 1 Britain On The Fiddle 3,459
39 BBC 1 The Truth About Stress 3,451
40 ITV Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs 3,419
41 ITV Killer Women with Piers Morgan 3,407
42 BBC 1 The Sheriffs Are Coming 3,400
43 BBC 2 Winterwatch 3,378
44 BBC 2 Great Pottery Throwdown 3,345
45 ITV Love Your Garden 3,290
46 BBC 1 Call the Midwife: The Casebook 3,234
47 ITV Devon & Cornwall Cops 3,206
48 BBC 1 Planet Earth II: A World of Wonder 3,174
49 ITV Lady Lucan: Time For Truth 3,165
50 ITV Tales from the Coast with Robson Green 3,144
51 BBC 2 The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 3,135
52 BBC 2 Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby 3,127
53 ITV Prince Philip: 70 Years of Service 3,114
54 ITV The Kyle Files 3 3,097
55 ITV Unbelievable Moments: Caught on Camera 3,075
56 BBC 2 The Day the Dinosaurs Died 3,045
57 CH4 Titanic: The New Evidence 3,000
58 ITV Save Money: Good Food 2,992
59 BBC 2 Mary Berry Everyday 2,981
60 BBC 2 Gardeners’ World 2,966

The list combines BARB’s Documentary, Hobbies / Lifestyle
and Current Affairs categories.

TAKEAWAYS

Corbyn Whispering?

  • Many of us saw Brexit predictors in the nostalgia-packed 2016 UK Hits List.
    • There was no big royal birthday or wedding this year.
    • It was left to Prince Phillip (#53) to deliver the HRH-loving audience. (However, I expect that the Princess Diana anniversary will change that for the FY2017 score card.)
    • The rural magazine Countryfile tops the chart, despite losing around 1 million viewers vs the 2016 peak.
  • But is 2017 a Jeremy Corbyn predictor?

Celebrity / Pop Culture

  • Retired football star Rio Ferdinand (#4), comedian Victoria Wood (#8) and programs inspired by The Full Monty (#9), The Real Marigold Hotel (#7) and Call The Midwife (#46)…
  • … They are reminders of the evergreen appeal of factual shows inspired by celebs and legendary TV programs or movies.
  • The Rio Ferdinand special earned acclaim as “an uncompromising, soul-baring examination of grief and in particular its effect on men.”

Natural History / Wildlife

  • The BBC’s Spy in The Wild (#5) reveals the UK’s lasting love of wildlife programs.
  • Spy In The Wild: Meet the Spies (#32) highlights how the Natural History audience delights in getting behind the scenes to learn about the amazing kit and fieldwork devised by production teams.
  • The 4-day “Live event” Winterwatch (#43) drew a peak of 3.4 Mn viewers to an inventive blend of Live feeds from Dorset, fixed cameras and pre-produced packages.
  • Reversing 2016 results, true Natural History programs nudge out popular pet shows, topped by Paul O’Grady’s Love of Dogs (#40).

  • The BBC’s Galapagos (#20) was launched from the Alucia research vessel.
  • When I was engaged by the Dalio Foundation on a strategic plan for Alucia Productions, I set in motion the Alucia’s use as the platform for David Attenborough’s hit Great Barrier Reef series, earning the credit of Development Executive.

More on Genres…

  • Brits love the Travel genre, which barely has a pulse in the U.S.
  • Crime seems to be popping in the UK as in the U.S., including cold case specials on Madeleine McCann and Lady Lucan.
  • Italy’s Invisible Cities (#29) shows that 360 imaging can carry a hit show in a year that the History genre isn’t delivering.
  • Antiques Roadshow ranks #2 behind Countryfile:
    • AR’s highest-rated episode gained 400,000 viewers over 2016.
    • And a hit Holocaust Memorial special added to the franchise’s decades of achievements.

90 is The New 30

  • Specials on Prince Philip (#53) and Mary Berry (#59) are a reminder that the ageing UK broadcast audience loves its Golden Oldies.
  • Here are the average ages of viewers for:
    • BBC1: 61
    • BBC2: 62
    • ITV: 60
    • Channel 4: 55
    • Channel 5: 58
  • The UK production and programming community itself is ageing:
    • The grey hair stands out a bit more each year at our conferences and markets.
    • Younger creatives are drawn to online platforms.
    • Maybe that partly explains the noticeable lack of originality among these hits?
  • Also: Read my post on Sam Barcroft’s WCSFP Stockholm presentation about the viewing habits of UK young (16-24) vs all viewers.

Americans: Take Notes!

These UK hits are earning closer study by U.S. programmers:

  • Channels like Nat Geo, Discovery and History are commissioning more quality, documentary-style factual programs after their audiences grew tired of Reality.
  • Shrinking audiences for the U.S. networks translates into budget pressures, and therefore more opportunities for UK co-productions, acquisitions and format sales.
  • Meanwhile, Netflix and Amazon are expanding their UK operations, and that means sourcing more global factual content from the UK production community.

__________________________________________

SVOD EXPLAINED
Original Analysis for Documentary Producers & Executives
PLUS TAKEAWAYS

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Opportunities, Success Factors & Deal Terms
for Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Vimeo and other OTT/VOD Platforms
Original analysis from DocumentaryTelevision.com with
distributor Kinonation’s Roger Jackson
Read More Here.
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