Channel 4, the UK FTA broadcaster, delivered a strong set of commercial and creative results in 2017, that it says will provide “a sound foundation for the new commercial and creative strategy” outlined by new Chief Executive Alex Mahon last month.
Channel 4 delivered corporation revenues of £960 million (€1.09bn) – above the five year revenue average for the corporation – with continued growth in digital revenues to £124 million.
Some £675 million was invested in content, with a record £510 million spent on original British produced programmes – up from £501 million in 2015; £189 million was spent on content produced in the Nations and Regions, with 309 producers across the UK – up from £169 million in 2015.
A financial deficit of £17 million was less than the planned outcome for the year, and reflects the established investment cycle of using surpluses accumulated in previous years to maintain investment in remit delivery through a more challenging economic environment.
At the end of 2017, Channel 4 retained a strong balance sheet of £446 million, including cash reserves of £190 million, which will provide a solid platform for future growth and continued commercial self-sufficiency.
Creative highlights for the year included the hugely successful launch of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4, as well as new youth-focused returning drama, Ackley Bridge, and the critically acclaimed The State and The Handmaid’s Tale – with other successful programming including Educating Greater Manchester, First Dates, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds and Lego Masters. Channel 4 also continued to showcase diversity in sport with live coverage of both the Women’s Euro 2017 Championships and the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championship – in addition to its live coverage of Formula One.
Channel 4 maintained its share of viewing across the portfolio, at 10.5 per cent, and on the main channel at 5.9 per cent (incl 4Seven). There was also continued growth in on-demand viewing, with 719 million programme views on All 4 over 2017, up from 620 million in 2016.
Channel 4 Chair, Charles Gurassa said: “Our 2017 annual results are set against one of the most difficult economic backdrops for several years and I’m particularly pleased that, despite those challenging circumstances, Channel 4 was able to perform at close to record levels – both in terms of its public remit delivery and its financial results. Our performance in 2017 also demonstrated how Channel 4 is able to adapt to a challenging marketplace and to changing viewing habits. The results provide a good foundation for the new corporate and creative strategies announced last month and for the continued creative and commercial success of the corporation.”
Mahon said: “My first six months at 4 have made it utterly clear to me what a rare and vital creative force Channel 4 is. We connect with a young and upmarket audience, we are a scale play for advertisers, and we have a distinctive and resonant brand. All of this means we can accelerate our commercial innovation, be the creative partner of choice for brilliant producers and film makers, and be both different and popular.”