Channel 4 posts record financial results, reveals $830m content spend for 2022

We Are Lady Parts

Embattled UK public broadcaster Channel 4 has revealed a record pre-tax surplus of more than £100m ($118m) during 2021, while it is set to hit a new record spend on content this year.

C4 has been at the centre of frenzied takeover talk over the past year, after the UK government pushed ahead with plans to privatise the broadcaster despite widespread opposition from the industry.

Alex Mahon

While those plans look uncertain following the resignation of prime minister Boris Johnson, who had been supporting the move, C4’s Annual Report shows the pubcaster in record-breaking form.

Record revenue rise

Corporate revenues soared 25% on the pandemic-hit 2020 figure to reach £1.2bn – breaking the £1bn level for the first time in C4’s history. Its 2021 revenue was also 18% up on 2019’s pre-pandemic revenues.

The pubcaster’s Future4 strategy to push away from linear, first unveiled in 2020, helped to propel digital advertising to 40% year-on-year growth. This now accounts for 19% of total corporation revenues, while the share of digital ad market hit 35%, exceeding its 28% share on linear.

The organisation’s AVOD streamer, All 4, also delivered a record-breaking performance with 1.5 billion views, while it is aiming to increase this to two billion views by 2025.

It helped propel C4 to a pre-tax surplus of £101m (up from £74m in 2020), with the organisation’s net cash reserves rising to £272m and net assets to £556m. The broadcaster said the results provided it with “a platform for future strategic growth and long-term investment.”

Spending & representation

Investment in programming stood at £671m, C4’s third-highest content spend ever, and a 29% increase on 2020, while £492m was spent on originated content (up 33% on 2020’s £370m. Of this, 55% of main channel content was made in the Nations and Regions, C4 said.

The pubcaster said it would “reinvest in the delivery of its remit and supporting independent producers across the UK,” adding that it is “on track to spend over £700m in content”, which would mark the highest level in C4’s 40-year history.

The broadcaster has already moved its headquarters to Leeds and it said at the end of last year, around 400 roles were based outside of London. A further £15m investment in training and development has been slated across the UK over three years, while the broadcaster pointed to shows such as It’s A Sin, The Black To Front Project, daytime show Steph’s Packed Lunch and We Are Lady Parts as highlights of its broad offering.

It’s A Sin

On the staffing front, C4 said 18% of its employees were ethnically diverse at the end of 2021, putting it on track to achieve its target of 20% by the end of 2022. The proportion of its ethnically diverse leaders also increased, from 9% in 2017 to 17% in 2021.

C4 CEO, Alex Mahon, described 2021 as “an outstanding year of creative excellence, exceptional digital growth and record-breaking financial performance.”

She continued: “These results demonstrate that Channel 4’s business model delivers dynamic growth, revenue diversification and long-term sustainability. Financially, Channel 4 is in the most robust health it has ever been and our results have laid the foundations for ongoing investment, financial success and stability.

“Channel 4 is a vital national institution, and its remit is deeply embedded in everything we make, every day and on every platform. It is about showcasing things that people might not agree with and that challenge perceptions. It’s about celebrating the rich diversity not only of all our communities across the UK, but also their diversity of thought and opinion.”

C4’s chair, Ian Cheshire, added: “Our exceptional financial performance demonstrates Channel 4’s long-term sustainability and, through its Future4 strategy, it will play a major and unique role in strengthening and levelling up the creative industries and creating new jobs and opportunities for young people across the UK.”

Read Next