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Channel 4’s main channel audience share increased last year and its public service remit delivery metrics were at their highest ever level as the corporation invested record amounts in original television, film and digital content funded by record commercial and digital revenues.
The company’s 2015 Annual Report outlines that Channel 4 spent a record £629 million on content, of which a record £455 million was on originally commissioned TV, film and digital content with a range of production companies across the UK. Reflecting Channel 4’s commitment to supporting smaller producers and production in the Nations and regions, 53 of all suppliers were new to Channel 4 in 2015 – +8 per cent more than in 2014 – and over half of all first run commissions were from outside of London.
Highly successful new series were established across all genres in 2015, including the likes of Humans, No Offence, Hunted, SAS: Who Dares Wins and Raised By Wolves. There was also huge critical acclaim for programmes such as Catastrophe, Chewing Gum, Murder Detectives, Escape from Isis, Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True, and My Son The Jihadi.
Across the year these programmes delivered an increase to Channel 4’s main channel viewing share which was up +1 per cent across all-time, and up +8 per cent across the peak time hours of 7-11pm, where Channel 4 focusses its remit delivery. The channel’s share of 16-34 viewers was up by +2 per cent in all-time and +7 per cent in peak. Across the whole portfolio, Channel 4 continued to perform well with an increase to peak time viewing (7-11pm) of +2 per cent over 2015.
The growth in audiences has continued into 2016, with Channel 4 main channel up +1 per cent in all-time and up +3 per cent in peak over the year to date – and the portfolio similarly up in all-time by +1 per cent and peak by +3 per cent.
Channel 4 won a range of 323 industry awards across 2015, and in the last two months has won eight RTS and seven BAFTA awards and was named Broadcast’s Channel of the Year. Film4-backed titles also continued to achieve significant awards success culminating in Academy Awards for Room, Amy and Ex Machina.
Channel 4’s public service remit has 15 elements which are tracked and reported to Ofcom within the Statement of Media and Content Policy through 42 different metrics. In 2015, the reputational impact measures, which track the delivery of Channel 4’s public service remit with the public, were at their highest level since reporting began in 2008. Channel 4 continued to maintain a significant lead on the metrics over other public service channels – with increases in key areas such as ‘challenging prejudice’, a ‘home for alternative voices’, ‘thinking about things in new and different ways’, and showing ‘viewpoints of minority groups in society’.
Corporation revenues rose to a record £979 million, driven by strong advertising sales performance, ad market growth and growth in digital revenues – achieving a post-tax surplus of £26 million. Digital revenues were up +30 per cent to £82 million following a programme of investment in commercial innovations such as the successful launch of All 4, and growth in targeted advertising using Channel 4’s database of over 13 million registered viewers. Total 4Sales house revenue, including third party representation of UKTV and BT Sport sales, grew to a record £1.17 billion.
Channel 4’s target is to generate £1 billion of revenue from the Channel 4 Television Corporation in 2016, which will enable further investment increases to the content budget.
Charles Gurassa, Channel 4 Chair said: “In 2015 Channel 4 performed strongly on both its public service remit and its financial parameters. As the report demonstrates, Channel 4 plays a unique and distinctive role in the UK creative industries and is well positioned for the future.”
David Abraham, Channel 4 Chief Executive said: “Channel 4 had a record impact on audiences and the UK’s creative sector in 2015 with our investment in original content, our commercial revenues and, critically, the delivery of our public service remit, all at their highest ever levels. We expect this impact and growth to continue in 2016 and, as a wide range of independent experts have concluded, our focus on both creative and commercial innovation has positioned us very strongly for the future.”