The Night Manager ‘worth the licence fee alone’ as TV Licensing celebrates 70th birthday

The UK’s most valued television programmes are revealed today by TV Licensing.

The organisation, which this year marks the 70th year since the introduction of the first combined radio and TV Licence1, has examined Twitter mentions of “worth the licence fee” over the past year to draw up the list.

Viewers increasingly turn to social media sites such as Twitter to discuss their TV preferences, and in the past year more than 300 individual BBC programmes and services have been linked to the value of the Licence Fee.

Dramas and nature documentaries are the genres driving online engagement, according to data gathered by TV Licensing, with thousands of appreciations for shows and programmes viewers deem "worth the licence fee".

The phrase, used more than 12,000 times, shows which programmes, services and presenters or actors Licence Fee payers truly value in relation to the cost of their annual Licence Fee.

The Night Manager, the show that had everyone hooked on the antics of arms dealer Richard Roper, played by Hugh Laurie, proved to be most popular with Twitter users, taking first place for unique mentions of a TV series (492 mentions).

Sir David Attenborough’s documentary series “The Hunt” also claimed one of the top spots, with more than 570 Twitter users declaring the programme, or the broader work of the veteran broadcaster, worth their Licence Fee alone. Almost a thousand viewers tweeted their appreciations of nature documentaries more widely, while 14 per cent of all "worth the licence fee" sentiment related to drama programmes.

Happy Valley, the crime drama filmed and set in The Calder Valley, was the third most mentioned show, with 241 unique mentions.

The data provides a unique insight into the value of the Licence Fee and shows audiences understand the cost and scale involved in creating TV content.

Jason Hill, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:

Twitter is a powerful way of sharing your appreciation of your favourite show and the data indicates just how important these landmark TV shows are to Licence Fee payers.

The Licence Fee is used to fund the BBC's programmes and services, and it's interesting to note people still engage with these shows in real-time. Despite changes in new ways of watching, more than 95 per cent of all viewing is live, with Licence Fee payers covered to watch on their TV, phones or tablets.

More than 100 Twitter users singled out BBC One renovation show "DIY SOS" as worth their £145.50 outlay. The BBC Proms was also highly rated, with 166 users favourably relating the music festival to value for the Licence Fee.

When first introduced on 1 June 1946, the licence covering the monochrome-only single-channel BBC television service cost £2. Radio-only licences were abolished in February 1971. The current cost of a TV licence is £145.50 per year

Anyone who watches or records TV programmes at the same time as they are being shown on TV, or live on an online TV service, must be covered by a valid TV Licence. This is true no matter what device they are using or the method they use to receive those programmes.

The top 10 programmes deemed "worth the licence fee" by viewers across the UK/in [region]:

  • The Night Manager (492 mentions)
  • The Hunt (403 mentions)
  • Happy Valley (241 mentions)
  • BBC Proms (166 mentions)
  • Panorama (156 mentions)
  • Strictly (123 mentions)
  • DIY SOS (106 mentions)
  • Line of Duty (106 mentions)
  • Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners (100 mentions)
  • War & Peace (97 mentions)

Example verbatim Tweets:

  • @ChrisGPackham: Sir Dave on BBC2 now. The master at work with more than 60 years of authoritive experience - worth the licence fee I'd say.
  • @GGreets: #TheNightManager is why the TV licence is worth every penny. Phenomenal.
  • @rosie_winch: Still tense after #TheHunt what an amazing programme, can't wait for next week. Well done @BBCEarth @BBCOne well worth the licence fee!
  • @MichaelBeek: My goodness, #HappyValley is worth the licence fee all on its own. Such brilliant drama...
  • @AndriKoElef: Loving the dramas on #bbc #WarAndPeace #HappyValley #NightManager worth the licence fee.
  • @JayneEdwards2: Just catching up with BBC4 Friday proms. Luvvin it and no question about licence fee. Worth every penny. END OF
  • @HTaylor_KHFC: #panorama tonight has been marvellous. Worth the license fee, and should win awards. Great coverage and investigative journalism
  • @ally_birch: #strictlycomedancing worth every penny of my licence fee
  • @chrissy_last: It's programs like @DIYSOS that make the TV licence worth every penny @BBCOne
  • @Cliona_Evans: #StargazingLive amazing programme! So worth my BBC licence fee. @astro_timpeake you were epic! @Cmdr_Hadfield I could listen to u all day!

1 The first combined radio and TV licence was issued in June 1946.

2 More than 12,000 mentions of tweets containing the phrase "worth the licence fee" were analysed and tagged for genre and programme from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. Data accessed 9 May 2016.

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