UK’s Channel 4 launches $40m content fund and unveils strategy for digital pivot

Alex Mahon

UK comcaster Channel 4 has unveiled a new corporate strategy called Future4, which will see the company accelerate its transition to digital, placing a renewed focus on its streaming services, while also launching a new £30m ($40m) content fund.

Channel 4’s CEO Alex Mahon has set out the primary objectives as part of the five-year plan – to double the number of viewers to its AVOD platform All4, to increase digital advertising to 30% of total revenue and to increase non-advertising to 10% of total revenue.

Mahon has also restated the broadcaster’s purpose to “create change through entertainment” with a mission statement to “represent unheard voices, challenge with purpose, and reinvent entertainment.”

To achieve its goals, Channel 4 will focus on four key pillars; the first being to prioritise digital growth over linear ratings.

To that end, the company plans to put “greater investment in young-skewing formats”, while going forwards, all of Channel 4’s commissioning, scheduling and commercial strategy will be optimised towards growing views and revenue on All4 – with a much greater focus on investing in content that can deliver long-term digital viewing growth.

The company has also announced a new £30m Global Format Fund, which will invest in new British-made formats with global potential, as part of this pillar. The fund will be invested over the next two years with a focus on “genres with the greatest potential for global format success”

Channel 4 will guarantee minimum runs and recommissioning triggers up front, as well marketing support. The company will also support producers with their international exploitation of the format.

The broadcaster says it has already invested more than 11bn in the UK production and creative sector since its launch in 1982, supporting the creation of global formats including Come Dine With Me and Gogglebox.


Becoming viewer-centric

The second pillar will place viewers “at the heart” of the company’s decision making, with the company stating: “To support this pivot to digital, Channel 4 must better understand its audience and their needs” and “become much more viewer-centric.”

This will involve the roll-out of a data-led targeting model to inform its content, marketing and product development strategy, using data gathered through All4 users and digital hub 4Studio.

The third pillar will see the company seek to diversity new revenue streams to underpin its sustainability, with a focus on increased innovation through its core commercial products and looking for revenue beyond advertising.

Channel 4 will also scale up 4Studio to more effectively monetise its social media footprint and accelerate the take up of All4+, the ad-free version of its on-demand service, with new content, features and product enhancements.

The fourth and final pillar will see Channel 4 focus on strategic partnerships to compete more effectively, which it will do building its network and forging new alliances to get its content in front of the right audiences, as well as collaborating on production, distribution, advertising and tech.

“Our ongoing focus is to continue to deliver our purpose and remit with meaningful scale and impact and I’m incredibly proud that we have already moved our viewing and our advertising revenues to digital at a faster rate than our competitors,” said Mahon.

“We want to push this even further still, and our new Future4 strategy is about underpinning our commercial sustainability and ensuring that we have a clear plan to transform ourselves into a digital public service media organisation that delivers across the whole of the UK for the future.”

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