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UK advertising-funded public service broadcaster Channel 4 says it is well positioned for the future after delivering a second successive year of growing revenues to record levels as the 2016 Annual Report shows. Corporation revenues totalled almost £1 billion (£995m/€1.12bn), compared with £979 million the previous year, with digital revenues making up over 10 per cent of the total, at £102 million (up +24 per cent on 2015), for the first time.
This enabled a record £695 million to be spent on programming in 2016 – up +10 per cent on 2015 – £501 million of which was original content spend on British programmes produced across the UK.
Some £169 million was invested in content produced in the Nations and Regions – up +13 per cent on 2015 (£149m) – with a record 55 per cent of first-run originated programming hours produced there, significantly in excess of broadcasting regulator Ofcom’s requirement of 35 per cent.
According to Channel 4, the success of its creative renewal strategy ensured that audience perceptions of Channel 4’s remit delivery reached new all-time highs, with the remit reputational trackers at their highest ever levels and Channel 4’s average lead over the other main PSBs also at a record level. It also ensured that Channel 4’s main channel viewing share was held stable at 5.9 per cent (2015: 5.9 per cent), and portfolio viewing stable at 10.5 per cent (2015: 10.6 per cent). Channel 4 won 327 industry awards in 2016 including seven BAFTA TV awards.
Channel 4’s significant increase in digital revenues – which comprised more than10 per cent of total revenues – were driven by innovation such as programmatic trading and data-led ad products. All 4 views over 2016 were up +21 per cent to 620m, with almost 15 million users registered with Channel 4 at the end of the year including over half of all UK 16-34s.
Charles Gurassa, Channel 4 Chair said: “In 2016 Channel 4 invested over £500m into independent creative businesses across the UK, helping to both stimulate growth and innovation in the sector and produce award-winning public service programming that has delivered record levels of public impact.
“As the results today show, David will be leaving Channel 4 in strong financial health and creatively at the top of its game. The Government’s recent decision to commit to Channel 4 remaining in public ownership is testament to both the commercial and creative health of the Corporation and the work that David and the wider team have done over recent years.
“I am delighted that Alex Mahon will be joining us as our new CEO this autumn. She hugely impressed all of us on the Board at Channel 4, brings an excellent track record as an experienced CEO in both the creative production and technology sectors and is a proven and respected leader.”
David Abraham, Channel 4 Chief Executive said: “The 2016 results demonstrate the scale and range of Channel 4’s creative and commercial innovation, with the second successive year of record revenue delivery underpinned by strong digital growth and our highest ever investment in UK-produced content which culminated in the exceptional delivery of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
“In a few months, I will be stepping down as Chief Executive and I am very proud of everything that Channel 4 has achieved over the past seven years. I will hand over a business with a strong balance sheet and in good brand health – well positioned to successfully navigate the current economic uncertainty affecting the advertising market.”
On screen, the second half of 2017 will see a number of major launches culminating in The Great British Bake Off making its debut on Channel 4 in the autumn. Other major schedule highlights include BAFTA-winning director Peter Kosminsky’s new four part-drama, The State; Electric Dreams, a new ten-part drama anthology of the work of Philip K Dick; the Women’s European Football Championships and Paralympic World Championships; the return of hit documentary format Educating…..in Manchester; and Escape, a new factual entertainment series hosted by SAS and Mutiny star, Ant Middleton.