Published Friday, 07 February 2014
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UTV has hit many important milestones since we first launched in 1959, but I think the date Thursday 6 February 2014 needs to be highlighted.

It was an important date in the history of UTV Television . I would even go so far as to say that yesterday was maybe up there with 31 October 1959 when we first went on air!


Well the media watchers amongst you might say it's because the Irish broadcasting regulator the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) announced that it will enter negotiations for a new television content contract for our new Irish station UTV Ireland which will go on air in January 2015 (@UTVIreland).

And yes, the 6th of February was a great day for us all here at UTV because of that news and the hard work done by a small team in the last few weeks. I will blog more on this when the contract is signed.

But that's not the reason I'm choosing the date as being so important. My reason for marking February 6 is very different.

Yesterday was the first day in UTV's history where our web users for the news site actually exceeded the ratings for UTV Live.

UTV Live is by far the most watched news programme broadcast from any of the devolved nations and night in night out our ratings exceed BBC Newsline by one third. Last night our ratings on TV were also first class with 200,000 viewers at 6pm. What's interesting is that online we had over 200,000 unique users yesterday.

So for us to get a bigger online audience than our television audience is a really big achievement.

We know that consumption of content is changing, but this is the first big sign that UTV's digital content strategies are paying off. Our social media Facebook and Twitter accounts drive viewers (like yourself) to our web - PC, mobile and App news services. And the audience seem to appreciate the investment and the experience when a big story breaks.

Now don't get me wrong, as a commercial operator, the revenue is still very much with television, but when the advertisers see the real impact of the second screen and the available and engaged audience we believe we'll have two strong propositions for local and national advertisers in Northern Ireland, both offering significant audiences.

It is clear that both on TV and online UTV News is engaging with our audiences in a more relevant way than ever before.

People say that regional television news audiences are falling, well last year UTV Live delivered the highest audience for more than 5 years with an impressive 35.5% share, at a time when our web traffic was also increasing. That's good news for UTV, but also for those that think high quality public service content and investment in content is important. The online audience is fickle, there are thousands of places to get local news and information, yet more and more people are coming to UTV's cross-platform services.

All at UTV enjoy the interaction with the audience that social media delivers - I'm on Twitter @mw_utv by the way - and we're looking forward to developing this model and social interactivity next year when we roll it out for our UTV Ireland channel too.

Congratulations to all on the web team for making making 6 February 2014 a major day in UTV's history.

I suspect there may be a few more milestone dates to come in 2014.

© UTV News
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Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is the Managing Director of UTV's Television Division.

Overseeing everything from the day to day running of UTV in Northern Ireland to the launch of UTV Ireland. His brief covers business development, online channels, regulatory affairs and the Contract and Licence commitments of the two channels.

Away from his job, he enjoys travel, current affairs, food - both eating out and cooking (he tells us he's pretty good in the kitchen) and his guilty pleasure is bad early Hollywood movies esp. horror and sci fi - think Bella Lugosi and Buster Crabbe!

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