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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

1BBC 1Africa

8,519

28.1

2BBC 1Countryfile

7,705

32.9

3BBC 1The Apprentice: The Final

6,742

29.5

4BBC 1‘Doctor Who’ Live

6,368

29.9

5ITVOur Queen

6,279

21.8

6ITVHer  Majesty’s Prison Aylesbury

6,132

21.5

7ITVLong Lost Family

5,877

23.5

8BBC 1Penguins – Spy In The Huddle

5,835

20.7

9ITVPaul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs

5,584

24.1

10BBC 1Who Do You Think You Are?

5,394

22.9

11BBC 2Horizon

5,148

20.9

12BBC 1Pompeii

5,056

19.6

13CH4My Big Fat Gypsy Valentine

5,054

16.5

14BBC 1Comic Relief

4,967

20.8

15CH4Richard III: The King In The Car Park

4,872

17.6

16CH4Educating Yorkshire

4,761

18.0

17ITVMartin Clunes: Heavy Horsepower

4,652

17.0

18CH4The Man With The 10-Stone Testicles

4,492

17.8

19BBC 1Andy Murray: Behind The Racquet

4,414

18.4

20ITVSecret Life Of Dogs

4,306

15.5

21ITVThe Zoo

4,295

21.8

22BBC 1Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain

4,244

18.5

23BBC 1Child Of Our Time

4,082

15.5

24BBC 1The Prisoners

3,997

13.7

25BBC 1Great Bear Stakeout

3,988

15.5

26ITVJames Nesbitt’s Ireland

3,949

14.8

27BBC 1My Hero: Miranda On Eric Morcambe

3,911

15.2

28BBC 1Bang Goes The Theory

3,885

15.7

29CH424 Hours In A & E

3,856

14.4

30ITVSecrets From The Workhouse

3,847

15.3

31ITVAndrew Lloyd Webber

3,841

17.3

32CH 5Celebrity Big Brother

3,834

16.0

33CH4Skint

3,813

14.2

34CH4The Undateables

3,776

13.9

35ITVWomen Behind Bars

3,759

15.3

36CH4One Born Every Minute

3,753

12.4

37BBC 1Motorway Cops

3,747

13.7

38CH4My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune

3,734

12.3

39BBC 2The Last Days Of Anne Boleyn

3,714

14.4

40BBC 1Victoria Wood’s Nice Cup Of Tea

3,653

13.6

41ITVStephen Fry’s Key To The City

3,613

13.3

42BBC 1Britain’s Biggest Hoarders

3,586

14.0

43ITVPerspectives: Warwick Davis

3,490

14.9

44CH416 Kids & Counting

3,471

11.9

45BBC 1The Queen: A Passion For Horses

3,460

11.9

46CH4My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

3,457

13.2

47BBC 2The Mary Berry Story

3,406

13.4

48ITVCornwall With Caroline Quentin

3,381

12.8

49BBC 2Dragons’ Den

3,370

14.0

50BBC 1Africa: 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

1BBC 2The Great British Bake Off

7,323

29.8

2BBC 1Antiques Roadshow

6,577

24.9

3BBC 1Masterchef

6,533

24.7

4BBC 1Celebrity Masterchef

6,277

26.1

5BBC 2Top Gear

5,890

17.2

6BBC 1DIY SOS: The Big Build

4,662

17.9

7BBC 1Nigel Slater’s Dish Of The Day

4,424

22.6

8BBC 1Eat Well For Less?

4,044

21.0

9BBC 1Holiday Hit Squad

4,011

17.6

10BBC 1Great British Budget Menu

3,920

19.6

11BBC 1Chelsea Flower Show

3,621

16.7

12ITVLove Your Garden

3,457

16.5

13CH4Grand Designs

3,223

13.1

14BBC 2The Great British Sewing Bee

3,087

12.7

15CH4Location, Location, Location

2,984

11.3

16BBC 2Springwatch

2,959

12.1

17BBC 1Bargain Hunt

2,848

30.7

18BBC 2Paul Hollywood’s Bread

2,842

10.5

19BBC 1Saturday Kitchen Live

2,817

27.5

20BBC 1Antiques Road Trip

2,796

17.0

Research assistance: Dana Bramble

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