UK commercial public service broadcaster Channel 5 Broadcasting has reported record turnover and profits as well as claiming the first consecutive years of profitability in its 20-year history.
For the 12 months to September 30th 2016, the Viacom-owned company recorded an operating profit of £58.4 million (€65.6m) against £14.9 million for the previous financial year. Turnover increased 19 per cent year-on-year to £383.6 million against £322.7 million in 2015. Channel 5 Broadcasting retained a profit after tax and extraordinary items of £42.3 million against £36.5 million in the previous financial year.
The company’s turnover, which derives largely from advertising revenues, benefited from a strong ratings performance relative to its main free-to-air competitors. For the second financial year running, Channel 5’s family of channels was the only terrestrial portfolio to grow its share of total TV viewing in the UK in the year to 30 September 2016, gaining 2 per cent to record a 6.13 per cent share. It enjoyed particularly strong portfolio growth amongst younger audiences with a 9 per cent increase in share of viewing amongst 16 to 34-year-olds, reflecting a dynamic performance by 5Star, which had its best-ever year with young audiences (+32 per cent year-on-year) and Spike in its first full year on air.
Channel 5’s ratings uplift during a year of high-profile televised sporting events, including The Olympics, Paralympics and UEFA Euro 2016, was driven by an increase in content spend of 11 per cent during the financial year. This investment helped accelerate an ongoing creative overhaul of Channel 5’s schedules under Director of Programmes, Ben Frow, with more than 40 new, original series launching in peak time during the financial year; two thirds of Channel 5’s programme hours (excluding advertising) are forecast to be UK originated in 2016, compared to a half in 2013.
“Channel 5 is radically different to the network Viacom first looked at buying three years ago; it has an entirely new look and just seven shows still broadcasting that were on air in 2013,” noted David Lynn, President, UK, Northern and Eastern Europe, for Viacom International Media Networks. “This transformation has taken place under American ownership but it is being driven by original British content. We’ve transformed the business model, through our advertising partnership with Sky Media and by getting Channel 5 to work more closely with our pay TV channels, making it sustainably profitable for the first time, in spite of recent economic uncertainty.”
Returnable popular factual series continue to form the backbone of Channel 5’s schedule, with new ratings hits such as The Yorkshire Vet and Eamonn and Ruth: How the Other Half Lives joining established favourites including: Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild, Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away and GPs: Behind Closed Doors. Channel 5 has also returned to original comedy and entertainment and enjoyed critical acclaim with mockumentary Borderline and its highest entertainment ratings in recent years with a UK version of Viacom’s Lip Sync Battle. Channel 5 also continued to build on its reputation for history with Henry VIII and His Six Wives and natural history with Loch Lomond: A Year in the Wild. The X-Files delivered the highest ratings for drama in the channel’s history, while Celebrity Big Brother equalled its highest ever share of viewing amongst 16-34s during its run in January 2016.
The increasing appeal of Channel 5’s content was reflected in more online viewing via its rebranded My5 player, which delivered an 18 per cent year-on-year increase in streams during the financial year. A My5 linear TV channel was also launched in August, replacing time-shifted network Channel 5 +24.
Channel 5 undertook a brand refresh of its entire network portfolio, which was unveiled in February 2016 and has led to an upturn in positive perceptions about the Channel 5 brand amongst young and more upmarket viewers.
Viacom completed the relocation of Channel 5 to its refurbished Camden campus in October 2016.