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3D Illustration of media with the UK flag as the title image for our blog about the UK media landscape

The UK Media Landscape: Media Companies, News Outlets, Ownerships

Charles Ayling

Sep 26, 2023

The digital explosion has enhanced media consumption as audiences splurge over 58 minutes on several platforms to catch up on the latest and trending stuff circulating globally. From traditional print media to cutting-edge digital platforms, the UK's media sector offers a wide array of sources for news, entertainment, and information.

You will notice that the UK media has made the shift to catering to clever audience choices by upping its ante in creativity and advertising to a wider population.

The competition for mass audience content has had a steep decline. Bingeing on episodes or movies made available in libraries showcases the fragmentation of the viewing experiences of the people. The core audiences have diversified their viewing and are hooked to streaming services—The Video Streaming (SVoD) market in the UK is expected to grow by almost 10% by 2027 resulting in a market volume of US$5.48 billion.

The changing need to engage audiences and public perception of content consumption has garnered a positive sentiment among creators and marketers. Recognizing the power of British influencers and social media to cater to the demography of viewers has been the prime goal for media in the UK.

Navigating the media landscape in the UK requires an understanding of the diverse sources and platforms available. Meltwater has been tracking the latest in terms of data research on understanding the media in the UK.

Whether you're seeking breaking news, in-depth analysis, or entertainment, the UK's media companies offer something for everyone, reflecting the country's dynamic and ever-evolving society.

Let us dive into the details:

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The Biggest UK Media Companies Of 2023

Revenues of several media houses had a rundown in the past couple of years. There was a rejig in the order and finding their feet back post-pandemic challenging economic conditions that impacted how content was consumed not only in the UK but across the globe.

Meltwater has put together the list of the three most impactful British media companies that ruled the roost in 2023. Statistics showed these companies not only survived the three lockdowns but bounced right back and established their ranking in terms of revenue, news, media, and information:

  1. RELX
  2. BBC
  3. ITV


RELX is one of the most formidable media companies in the UK with revenue earnings of £8.6bn through news and information brands. It is a media house that worked on the lines to tread on the stability of legal and scientific brands.

They have cracked the market by understanding the market need by banking in popular data products that last the course. With an events company and publishing division all faring well, their revenues will likely soar in 2023.

2. BBC

BBC remains one of the largest British news organisations with approximately 91% of UK adults using BBC radio, television, or online media weekly.

The organisation is also responsible for 42% of the total investment that goes into original UK TV content. Their annual income for FY2023 was more than £5.5 billion; of which approximately 65% comes from licence fees paid by the citizens.

3. ITV

ITV, the oldest commercial network in the UK, is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network.

Following a relatively low revenue in 2020 due to the coronavirus epidemic, ITV Studios' revenue grew again, reaching more than £2 billion in 2022. This is driven by their constant investments in new streaming services—ITVX—to upgrade their customer’s experience.

ITVX contains bespoke video packages along with a special news section; which the viewers have always found ITV entertaining. Additionally, having some of the trusted brands on board has added to the brand value.

Media Consumption Of The UK Population In 2023

UK media ownership is concentrated, with few major conglomerates controlling various news outlets in the UK. This is majorly because only creating content isn’t enough, you need to know how to distribute it too.

For example, Lachlan Murdoch, who owns the British Media company ‘News Corp’, is a business magnate, media proprietor, and investor. Through ‘News Corp,’ he owns some of the most renowned media magazines such as Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal.

If you want to better understand how to distribute newswire effectively, watch Meltwater’s webinar on ‘How to make the most of Newswire distribution with Meltwater’!

Coming back, here is a list of some of the most common channels through which the UK population consumes media:

Tip: Take a look at UK social media statistics as well!

UK Newspaper Consumption

Although there has been a decline in the consumption of print newspapers, with digital platforms substituting them, recent data shows consistent print newspaper reach between 2022 and 2023.

The UK is also home to some of the world's most renowned newspapers, including:

  • The Times: Known for its comprehensive news coverage and analysis.
  • The Guardian: A progressive newspaper with a global readership.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Providing in-depth reporting on politics and business.
  • The Sun: A popular tabloid focusing on celebrity news and entertainment.

Tip: Take a look at our list of the largest US newspapers and read about the state of print monitoring.

UK Magazine Consumption

The UK boasts a thriving magazine industry covering diverse topics, from fashion (Vogue) to politics (The Economist) and culture (The New Yorker). While there wasn’t a significant increase in reading in the recent year, ‘Time’ remains the most popular magazine among adults, having seen a 13% increase in reach since 2022.

Tip: Take a look at our list of the most popular magazines in the US and read our customer story with The Economist to learn how Meltwater helps The Economist strategically grow its readership through new subscriptions.

UK Broadcasting Service Consumption

The major broadcasting services in the UK are:

  1. British Broadcasting Corporation
  2. Commercial Television
  3. Radio

Tip: Learn more about TV and broadcast monitoring with Meltwater.

1. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

While publicly funded, the BBC is a cornerstone of the UK's media landscape. It operates multiple television channels, radio stations, and an extensive online platform.

The BBC is known for its impartial news reporting and high-quality programming, including dramas, documentaries, and entertainment shows, with an increased viewership of 3+ hours a day.

2. Commercial Television

Independent Television (ITV) is a major commercial television network in the UK, offering a wide range of programs, including popular soaps and reality shows.
Also, BBC One remains the most-watched channel among adults in the UK, followed by ITV1, BBC News Channel, and Sky News Channel.

turned on tv screen in the background with person holding remote control in the foreground

3. Radio

The UK has a thriving radio industry, with BBC Radio stations covering diverse genres, including news, music, and talk shows.

Despite a decrease in radio consumption since 2018, BBC One remains the most-used news source across platforms—among the adults that use radio for news, 7 in 10 continue to listen to BBC radio station.

Additionally, BBC iPlayer remains the fourth most-used source for news, behind ITV1 and Facebook.

UK Digital Media Consumption

If we acknowledge that the media plays an important role in how we identify, agree, rally, communicate, and progress as a society, media monitoring becomes an extremely critical activity for brands seeking a presence in the digital world.

Media monitoring refers to how companies acquire insight into their consumers' hearts and minds, perceptions of their brand, themes, and conversations relating to the job they do or the services they give, and how their brand exists and performs in comparison to the competition.

Tip: Download the ultimate guide to media monitoring for free.

Some of the most common digital modes through which media companies reach their audience are:

  1. Online News Portals
  2. Social Media
  3. Podcasts

1. Online News Portals in the UK

Online news platforms like BBC News, The Guardian, and The Independent have a significant online presence, delivering breaking news and in-depth analysis to a global audience.

2. Social Media in the UK

Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are widely used for news consumption and social interaction—they have become essential tools for journalists and news organisations to reach audiences.

According to reports, almost 50% of UK adults use social media for news nowadays. Plus, among the various social media channels; Facebook is the most used for local news, Twitter for breaking news, and TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are all used for celebrity news.

Tip: For more specific information on social media in the UK, take a look at UK social media statistics.

3. Podcasts in the UK

Looking for the latest social media news? This blog has it. This image of a retro-looking microphone against a solid background conveys the message that news is being broadcast

The popularity of podcasts has surged in the UK, covering a wide range of topics, from true crime to politics. They offer an alternative way to consume news and entertainment and are particularly popular among young adults and Gen-Z.

YouTube and Spotify continue to be the most popular platforms among adults who claim to consume news via podcasts, followed by BBC Sounds.

Tip: Check out the best tech podcasts, the best social media podcasts, the best retail podcasts, the best PR podcasts, the best finance podcasts, the best e-commerce podcasts, the best marketing podcasts, the best SEO podcasts, and the best Shopify podcasts.

Illustration einer Lupe, die Social Media Daten analysiert

Global trends percolate into influencing UK media consumption, and the patterns reflect the trends you see in 2023. Engaging and sensational content often catches the attention of viewers.

Audiences have made their choices and subscribed to major streaming platforms to enjoy more diverse content. Traditional platforms struggle to keep up and use above-the-line marketing campaigns to derive new revenue streams to stay relevant.

The following changes came about to keep up with the evolving content consumer’s needs.

  • Most traditional broadcasters have revamped their content according to media consumption patterns, such as ITV and Channel 4 rebranding.
  • BBC had an uphill task this year as they had to deal with several controversies and check out a window for digital acceleration to meet the future of the market of UK media.
  • The overall ad spend growth prediction for 2023 is 3.6%, which is lower than the 5.9% predicted in the July 2022 report.
  • Embracing commercial media models and not having safety cover from macroeconomic challenges harms the performance of several marketing organisations.
  • Storytelling and press releases have shifted to TikTok and Instagram, and news publishers are switching over to cater to younger audiences.
  • One of the long-awaited news was the passing of the online safety bill.

Media Challenges Currently Faced In The UK

Media has significantly transformed, and consumption in all age groups has posed challenges. The advent of the latest devices, extensive streaming platform services, and varied forms of media supposedly sidelined traditional forms.

Here are some of the most common challenges that the UK media currently faces:

  • Digital Transformation: Traditional media outlets in the UK are adapting to the digital age, with online platforms and paywalls becoming more common.
  • Social Media Influence: While social media platforms play a significant role in shaping public discourse and news consumption, they have also been facing scrutiny for misinformation and privacy issues.
  • Press Freedom: The UK generally enjoys press freedom, but lately there have been concerns about the select few who own the British newspapers and other media channels. The concerns are primarily about the potential impact of this concentration on editorial independence.
  • Declining Print Circulation: Like many countries, the UK has seen a decline in print newspaper circulation as readers shift to online sources.
  • Regulatory Changes: Regulatory changes like the proposed Online Safety Bill aim to address issues like online harm and misinformation.

Effective Marketing Measures Currently Employed By The UK Media

A general shift in perception has made traditional media understand that digital marketing measures are indispensable tools. They are the only means of becoming dynamic digital channels to garner audiences.

Media market leaders looked into deploying brands as an enterprise-wide strategy and accelerating the move to new digital technologies/platforms. As they are powered to jump onto digital technologies, there has been over 40% increase as seen across the UK in 2023.

Adoption of these technologies can provide you with a competitive advantage, and marketers see the metaverse and blockchain as particularly promising.

Additionally, the UK mediascape has seen a strategic shift in the way of functioning and consumer consumption. There is a drive for creating content and systems for greater personalization using artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) and building more sustainable capabilities and offerings for public consumption in the long term.

For example, media monitoring and social listening have been at an all-time high. This is because the consumption of social media has been at an all-time high with almost 50% of the UK adults using it for news.

Always Stay On Top Of The UK Media

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Given that the UK’s media landscape is constantly changing, staying on top of trends is frequently the most challenging component. With the Meltwater PR Suite, you'll never miss a beat because we provide an all-platform media monitoring service.

Moreover, your company can take its marketing to the next level by using a press release distribution service, media database, and relationship management, as well as other valuable media tools such as the Meltwater Media Relations Suite.

To receive a free demo, just complete the form below.