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UKTV Play marks shift in strategy for broadcaster, says Fahy

Dan Fahy

Dan Fahy

UKTV’s launch of the UKTV Play online is enabling the UK pay TV broadcaster to place greater emphasis on marketing content across its channel brands for the first time, as well as potentially allowing it to make much greater  use of data about how its content is viewed by subscribers, according to Dan Fahy, director, commercial and business development at the UK pay TV channel provider.

Speaking at Informa’s Digital TV World Summit in London this morning, Fahy said UKTV Play differs from previous catch-up services by bringing content from all its channels together, enabling cross-channel search and bringing collections together from across its brands.

UKTV last month launched a full 10-channel catch-up service with Virgin Media, the first time all its channels have been available on catch-up. The UKTV Play service on Virgin Media will be launched this month, said Fahy.

Fahy said UKTV had begun to emphasise the common parentage and connections between its 10 channels over the last 12 months, with viewers watching content across the provider’s portfolio of services rather than within one particular channel.  He said that linear services continued to lead promotional activity, however. “If people like the look of our programmes they’ll know how to find it on our OTT services,” he said.

“It’s fairly easy to make your channels found [on linear] but putting a single brand out [on OTT] risks you becoming lost,” said Fahy. “While channels still remain the central piece of our strategy we wanted to see if we could do more things with our programming.” He said that UKTV knew there would be rewards for advertisers and platform partners in creating more engagement with its programmes.

Fahy said that UKTV also wants to target Freeview homes that are will to pay a bit for programming, and said the broadcaster will work with pay TV platforms to enable its content to reach this segment. However, Fahy said UKTV remains committed to partnering with pay TV operators rather than delivering a standalone OTT services on its own.
Fahy said that UKTV is only at the start of putting usage data to good use. Use of data showing how viewers watched content across channel brands could inform it better how to commission and acquire new shows, he said.

Fahy said UKTV still faced challenges in terms of rights keeping up with new ways of distributing content on OTT services. It also faces challenges in terms of its delivery of technology capabilities.