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Viceland UK fails to reach viewers

News, 06 October 2016

LONDON: Vice Media has often emphasised its ability to reach the coveted millennial demographic, but new analysis suggests its new UK TV channel has got off to a slow start with some peak nights reaching zero viewers.

Viceland UK launched on 19 September exclusively on Sky, but it is reported to have achieved a peak audience of just under 14,000 during the primetime slot of 9pm to 11pm, while some nights saw it attract no viewers at all.

That is according to Tom Harrington, an analyst at Enders, whose study was based on data from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB).

He told The Guardian that the channel's best result in attracting 16- to 34-year-olds, the market at which Vice is targeted, was fewer than 10,000 viewers one night during its first two weeks of broadcasting.

"It is surely early days, but despite strong content, the initial results were predictable, considering the challenges," he said. "The response by Vice, that viewing figures are essentially immaterial to its plans, was expected, but deviated from earlier bullish sentiment."

He described Viceland UK's launch as "lacklustre" following a "similarly underwhelming" debut in the US earlier this year.

According to the Enders study, Viceland UK is struggling because it can be watched only on the Sky pay-TV platform – so reaching less than half of UK millennials – and it also features far down the TV electronic programme guide at slot 153 in the general and entertainment listings.

However, responding to the research, Vice UK said it was "extremely premature" to judge a new channel on its ratings when "it's just out of the blocks".

"Looking at Viceland in the US after six months, the average audience age dropped by nearly 20 years, its audience is growing week by week, and our programming is Emmy nominated," a Vice spokesperson said. "In the coming months we expect to mirror the same success here in the UK as well."

The company may be hoping that a significant, month-long, marketing campaign will turn the situation around for Viceland UK.

According to Business Insider, a source at Vice has revealed that 30-second spot ads for Viceland will be launched from Friday on both Freeview and pay TV.

The Vice source, who declined to say how much will be spent on the marketing push, also said there will an outdoor poster campaign as well as social video activity across Facebook and Twitter.

Data sourced from The Guardian, Business Insider; additional content by Warc staff