UK Factual Viewing 2013. Keywords: Big Audiences, Quality, Eclectic, Blue Chip Wildlife, History, and More

We say this every time we view the latest UK viewing data: “the list shows real quality and is wonderfully eclectic!”

  • There is a thriving appetite for nonfiction programs across genres and formats, including observational, hosted, Blue Chip, high end Lifestyle, Travel, and so on.
  • The list includes several big budget Natural History, Science, History series and specials.

UK@013

The shares and ratings are huge compared with U.S. audiences for comparable programs:

  • Many of these categories are nearly extinct in the equivalent U.S. Top 100, where Reality series led by A&E’s Duck Dynasty continue to rock and roll.
  • Or where nonfiction ‘tent poles’ are giving way to scripted ones, like this weekend’s record-setting Killing Kennedy on Nat Geo Channel.

Here is a chart of the Top 50 Factual programs in UK for 2013 through Sept 30:

‘000

Share

1 BBC 1 Africa

8,519

28.1

2 BBC 1 Countryfile

7,705

32.9

3 BBC 1 The Apprentice: The Final

6,742

29.5

4 BBC 1 ‘Doctor Who’ Live

6,368

29.9

5 ITV Our Queen

6,279

21.8

6 ITV Her  Majesty’s Prison Aylesbury

6,132

21.5

7 ITV Long Lost Family

5,877

23.5

8 BBC 1 Penguins – Spy In The Huddle

5,835

20.7

9 ITV Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs

5,584

24.1

10 BBC 1 Who Do You Think You Are?

5,394

22.9

11 BBC 2 Horizon

5,148

20.9

12 BBC 1 Pompeii

5,056

19.6

13 CH4 My Big Fat Gypsy Valentine

5,054

16.5

14 BBC 1 Comic Relief

4,967

20.8

15 CH4 Richard III: The King In The Car Park

4,872

17.6

16 CH4 Educating Yorkshire

4,761

18.0

17 ITV Martin Clunes: Heavy Horsepower

4,652

17.0

18 CH4 The Man With The 10-Stone Testicles

4,492

17.8

19 BBC 1 Andy Murray: Behind The Racquet

4,414

18.4

20 ITV Secret Life Of Dogs

4,306

15.5

21 ITV The Zoo

4,295

21.8

22 BBC 1 Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain

4,244

18.5

23 BBC 1 Child Of Our Time

4,082

15.5

24 BBC 1 The Prisoners

3,997

13.7

25 BBC 1 Great Bear Stakeout

3,988

15.5

26 ITV James Nesbitt’s Ireland

3,949

14.8

27 BBC 1 My Hero: Miranda On Eric Morcambe

3,911

15.2

28 BBC 1 Bang Goes The Theory

3,885

15.7

29 CH4 24 Hours In A & E

3,856

14.4

30 ITV Secrets From The Workhouse

3,847

15.3

31 ITV Andrew Lloyd Webber

3,841

17.3

32 CH 5 Celebrity Big Brother

3,834

16.0

33 CH4 Skint

3,813

14.2

34 CH4 The Undateables

3,776

13.9

35 ITV Women Behind Bars

3,759

15.3

36 CH4 One Born Every Minute

3,753

12.4

37 BBC 1 Motorway Cops

3,747

13.7

38 CH4 My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune

3,734

12.3

39 BBC 2 The Last Days Of Anne Boleyn

3,714

14.4

40 BBC 1 Victoria Wood’s Nice Cup Of Tea

3,653

13.6

41 ITV Stephen Fry’s Key To The City

3,613

13.3

42 BBC 1 Britain’s Biggest Hoarders

3,586

14.0

43 ITV Perspectives: Warwick Davis

3,490

14.9

44 CH4 16 Kids & Counting

3,471

11.9

45 BBC 1 The Queen: A Passion For Horses

3,460

11.9

46 CH4 My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

3,457

13.2

47 BBC 2 The Mary Berry Story

3,406

13.4

48 ITV Cornwall With Caroline Quentin

3,381

12.8

49 BBC 2 Dragons’ Den

3,370

14.0

50 BBC 1 Africa: Greatest Show

3,312

14.0

 

 

 

TAKEAWAYS

Natural History

  • The BBC’s unforgettable Africa series tops the list, firing The Apprentice (now #3) from the top spot.
  • Penguins (#8) establishes that innovative technical kit can deliver unique access and king size ratings.

Penguin cam 3

  • Africa and Penguins are good news for the BBC which is doubling down on core ‘mission’ programs in the lead up to a contentious license renewal.
  • The BBC/Discovery copro deal delivered $15 million / year to the Beeb for wildlife programming.
  • Its termination fueled predictions that the Blue Chip Natural History field will soon be on under severe funding pressure.
  • There are five Wildlife programs in our Top 20 in our list. Two are Blue Chip and three are hosted specials. They are: For the Love of Dogs, Secret life of Dogs and Heavy Horsepower.
  • Another quick Takeaway: ‘Know who you’re pitching’.  I can’t tell my readers how many times I have heard that horses and birds are on the US commissioners’ list of ‘concepts that kill the pitch meeting.’ Not so in UK!

Royal / History

  • History still matters to the Brits, with five in the Top 20.
  • Royal topics are sprinkled up and down the list, led by ITV’s Our Queen at #5 and Richard III: The King in the Car Park with 4.9 million viewers in our #15 slot.
  • And then there’s the Royal/Animals hybrid: The Queen: A Passion for Horses at #45.

Hosts are Back!

  • I counted 12 in the Top 50, and may have missed quite a few.

Work

  • In our post-GFC age of chronic under-employment, Work is a recurring theme.
  • It is the key topic for young job seekers in The Apprentice, horses again in Heavy Horsepower and for the UK itself in Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain.
  • There’s a Work/History blend in ITV’s expose of 19th Century social horrors, Secrets of the Workhouse.
  • And in several Obs/Docs formats, humanity is observed at work in prison and hospital settings.

Gross Stuff

  • Extreme human conditions are still popular.
  • C4 again takes the prize for low-brow Science – this time with The Man With the 10-Stone Testicles. (#18)
    • That’s 140 lbs or 64 kilos for non-stoner readers!

What Else?

  • The list is very British: The big exception is The Apprentice, a U.S. format.
  • There is less nostalgia than in our previous report, published in a Royal Anniversary year.
  • The gypsy franchise expands.
  • Long Lost Family and Who Do You Think You Are? show the powerful appeal of family discovery formats.

Overall Report Card?

  • There aren’t many new, breakout programs that are apparent in the list.
  • Big year for BBC Natural History.
  • And thanks to Netflix, Hulu Plus and other platforms, I’m able to see more of the amazing quality and variety offered to Brits!

HOBBIES & LEISURE

BARB provides a separate list for ‘Hobbies & Leisure’.

Here are the Top 20, UK Hobbies & Leisure, 2013 through Sept 30.

‘000

Share

1 BBC 2 The Great British Bake Off

7,323

29.8

2 BBC 1 Antiques Roadshow

6,577

24.9

3 BBC 1 Masterchef

6,533

24.7

4 BBC 1 Celebrity Masterchef

6,277

26.1

5 BBC 2 Top Gear

5,890

17.2

6 BBC 1 DIY SOS: The Big Build

4,662

17.9

7 BBC 1 Nigel Slater’s Dish Of The Day

4,424

22.6

8 BBC 1 Eat Well For Less?

4,044

21.0

9 BBC 1 Holiday Hit Squad

4,011

17.6

10 BBC 1 Great British Budget Menu

3,920

19.6

11 BBC 1 Chelsea Flower Show

3,621

16.7

12 ITV Love Your Garden

3,457

16.5

13 CH4 Grand Designs

3,223

13.1

14 BBC 2 The Great British Sewing Bee

3,087

12.7

15 CH4 Location, Location, Location

2,984

11.3

16 BBC 2 Springwatch

2,959

12.1

17 BBC 1 Bargain Hunt

2,848

30.7

18 BBC 2 Paul Hollywood’s Bread

2,842

10.5

19 BBC 1 Saturday Kitchen Live

2,817

27.5

20 BBC 1 Antiques Road Trip

2,796

17.0

Research assistance: Dana Bramble

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