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TV and on-demand audiovisual services in United Kingdom

Description of the audiovisual market


Audiovisual media landscape United Kingdom 2015

There are five significant groups on the British market, with the BBC and ITV channels together commanding 59% of the daily market share in 2014.

The BBC Public Service Broadcaster has more than 20 national public channels with a further 20 regional and local windows. BBC Worldwide includes BBC World News and a range of channels that target Scandinavia, Poland and other European countries (BBC Brit, BBC Earth etc.). BBC Worldwide has shares in the UKTV thematic channels, in a joint venture with Scripps TV.

ITV Plc. holds 13 of the 15 Channel 3 licences in the UK after years of take-overs. The purchase of the UTV channels in October 2015 implies that just the two Scottish licences of STV are independently owned. Other significant broadcasters include Channel 4, Sky Plc. (21st Century Fox) - each with around 10% audience share - and Channel 5 with 6% in 2014.

The UK remains the place of establishment for a very large number of European TV brands that target the rest of Europe (many of which are US channel brands).

The UK has also developed as a significant place of establishment for on-demand audiovisual services, again including many US brands that target other markets. Important national services include the BBC iPlayer, and the catch-up services of the other main broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. In the subscription VoD (SVOD) segment, Amazon Prime and Netflix dominate the market (more than 90% of the SVOD market in volume), with Sky’s Now TV being a third but less significant player.

In the digital media landscape, the UK ranks as one of the most developed and advanced countries world-wide according to the 2015 OFCOM Communications Market Report. The importance of new media in the audiovisual media ecosystem is also reflected by the high spend on Internet advertising and mobile advertising.

Digital TV households reached 95.7% of the 28 million households in 2014. The most important distribution platforms are DTT (over 30%) and pay satellite (more than 35%) from Sky Plc. Cable television (provided almost exclusively by Virgin Media, now part of Liberty Global) has remained steady over the last five years at around 13.5% of all UK households. IPTV, previously not very significant in the UK has been showing a steady growth (from 2.3% of pay-TV homes in 2010 to 8.1% in 2014). The main IPTV players are British Telecom (BT), Talktalk and Everything Everywhere Ltd.

In the United Kingdom, the media sector is legislated via the Communications Act of 2003. This act established the converged regulator Ofcom, which has the responsibility for the regulation of the audiovisual and communications sectors.

The public service broadcasters are governed by various boards and trusts. The role of Ofcom with regards to PSB is to carry out a review of public service media every 5 years focusing on various themes such as financing, digitization, programming, production, audience opinions, investment in programming etc. Ofcom reports on the extent to which the overall public service remit is met.

For the BBC, its purpose and remit are outlined in the Royal Charter, an agreement with the government. The BBC is governed by the BBC Trust which supervises the management Board and sets the objectives — both public service and commercial, and carries out the formal assessment of proposals from the BBC to change or to establish new services.

Channel 4 is a publicly-owned, commercially-funded public service broadcaster. It does not receive any public funding, and is governed by a single Board. S4C is the public service channel in the Welsh language and governed by the S4C Authority. The broadcaster’s funding and the use of the television licence fee are supervised by the BBC Trust.

From 2010 to 2015, on-demand audiovisual services were regulated by the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD), a co-regulator assigned by the Ofcom. At the end of 2015, the regulation of on-demand services was taken over by Ofcom.

Licensing authorities / Registers
TV channels
TV channels established in the country
Foreign TV channels targeting the country
Other TV channels available in the country
Local TV channels established in the country
On-demand audiovisual services
On-demand audiovisual services established in the country
Foreign on-demand audiovisual services targeting the country

This country has no local on-demand audiovisual services available in the country.

Operators (all types of companies)
Providers of on-demand audiovisual services
Distributors, transmitters and/or packagers
Other activities

This country has no host and/or store of applications.