North West 200 ‘worth the licence fee’ as TV Licensing celebrates 70th birthday

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The UK’s most valued television programmes have been revealed by TV Licensing.

The organisation, which this year marks the 70th year since the introduction of the first combined radio and TV Licence, 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.

Popular programmes with Northern Irish viewers included The Hunt, Strictly Come Dancing and coverage of the North West 200.

Karen Grimason, 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.

Coverage of sporting events, like the North West 200, in Northern Ireland has been praised on Twitter:

@MikeAstles tweeted: “@BBCSport amazing coverage of the @northwest200 again this year! Worth my TV license fee alone! Great work! Thank you Northern Ireland”

@paulcarson321 tweeted: “@BBC_NI_Bikes thanks for the super facility of live streaming the #NW200 Licence fee is worth it just for this! http://t.co/Y4pB1WKhnT”

“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.”

Nationally The Night Manager, the show that had everyone hooked on the antics of arms dealer Richard Roper, 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 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.

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

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 Owner (100 mentions)

War & Peace (97 mentions)