Posted on October 13, 2014 by staff

Keeping You Switched On

Keeping You Switched On

Just 21 years on from its birth, mult-award winning television and media company UKTV is at the pinnacle of digital TV services. CEO Darren Childs explains how.

Just a few short years ago, critics were claiming that TV as we know it was encountering its end, with many predicting that the shift to digital meant everything we watch would be on mobile phones – a frightening prospect for traditional
TV broadcasters.
But the story couldn’t be more different for multi-channel broadcaster UKTV. Despite digital taking over our terrestrial screens earlier this year, opening our eyes to over 260 watching options, it has weathered the storm, enjoying yet another year of increasing viewership on its 10 channels.
Talking about UKTV’s ability to remain one of the country’s most switched-on broadcasters during TV’s toughest times, CEO Darren Childs says: “To stay at the top of our game, we always have to re-evaluate.
“Our channels draw in 42m viewers a month – that’s about 9 per cent of all commercial television viewing in the UK, and we’ve had to work hard to get things right.”
He puts these figures down to the company’s innovation, culture and talented staff. And while broadcasters could’ve felt threatened by the rise of the internet, according to Darren, it was UKTV’s can-do attitude and ability to embrace digital that has seen it come through the transition with positive results.
“We never buried our heads in the sand; we didn’t ever avoid the shift to digital,” he says. “The internet brought with it a phenomenal business opportunity for broadcasters, because now we can take our content to people both in the living room and out of it.
“Many see it as disruptive; we think it’s exciting. It enables the end user and gives people what they want, when they want it, no matter where they are.
“We strive to understand the people who are consuming TV and predict how their viewing habits will change as the world around them changes, too.
“We’ve got the benefit of technology that allows us to launch channels quickly, combined with the talents of the 250 people who work here, who are always looking to create new technologies that the audience loves.”
Today’s TV audience have become voracious consumers, in need of instant gratification and working their viewing habits around their busy schedules. To fit the trend, UKTV Play was launched in August – UKTV’s first interactive, digital service. Launched on iOS, and coming to PC and YouView by the end of the year, UKTV Play is an on-demand service for viewers to hunt out their favourite programmes in one single destination.
“UKTV Play is as easy as switching on your TV,” says Darren. “We have curated content by topics and events, so UKTV Play takes away the difficulty that some viewers find with video on demand: choosing what it is they want to watch.”
Keen to pass on the fruits of its labour to the team working hard behind the scenes of its successful channels, UKTV has developed a new working environment in Hammersmith, London, with a fun and relaxed atmosphere, and views across the vibrant Capital; an amalgamation Darren sees as essential for the staff, the business and its future.
“Our new office attracts the top digital talent and makes people want to create nothing but their best work,” he says.
“The designers’ brief for the new building was simply to build a collaborative and innovative space. If you want people to be bouncing ideas of each other and making something that could be a breakthrough product, your office environment has to be unique, just like your people, and that’s what we’ve created.”
As our lives become increasingly dominated by the digital stratosphere, UKTV continues to develop bespoke products that keep its audience coming back for more, over and over again. And while its continued success has been aided by the rise of the internet, its deep rooted passion for inventing, revolutionising and predicting change is the real factor, Darren says, to ensure it stays one step ahead in the digital game.
“TV broadcasters have raised their game; we’ve had to, because consumers have,” Darren says. “If there’s a better product out there, they will find it.
“Innovation and demand for our services drives us, and we won’t give that up. Nothing is ever constant here, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if UKTV were to be in an even better position than it is now, in another 10 years’ time.”
Learn more about UKTV, its channels and its new digital service, UKTV Play at network.uktv.co.uk.