Advanced Television

Channel 4: “We are in excellent health”

June 22, 2021

Channel 4 has launched its 2020 Annual Report and gave an interim update on the Future4 transformation strategy, from the organisation’s new National HQ in the Majestic in Leeds.

The 2020 Annual Report shows that, despite the background of uncertainty and volatility resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, Channel 4 delivered a record financial surplus of £74 million at year-end – following growth in All 4 streaming views, linear viewing and digital revenues and a strong recovery in the TV advertising market.

Lockdown creative hits included Grayson’s Art Club, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back and Jamie Oliver’s Keep Cooking and Carry On, whilst there was distinctive and challenging content ranging from the BAFTA-award winning The School That Tried to End Racism to Barrymore: The Body In the Pool and Murder in the Car Park.

Channel 4 says it has worked closely with partners in the production sector to keep making many of its biggest audience favourites, including The Great British Bake Off, Gogglebox, Taskmaster and The Last Leg.

By investing in All 4 and prioritising digital growth Channel 4 reported is has delivered streaming growth of +26 per cent in 2020 to hit more than 1.25 billion views whilst linear share grew by +3 per cent on our main channel, and +7 per cent for young people.

Digital advertising revenues increased by 11 per cent in 2020, despite the negative economic effects of Covid-19. In 2020, digital advertising made up 17 per cent of Channel 4’s total revenues, up from 15 per cent in 2019.

Over the first half of 2021, there has been continued growth in streaming and linear viewing share and Channel 4 expects to see further growth in its digital revenues, with total corporation revenue expected to exceed £1 billion in 2021 for the first time ever. As a result, Channel 4 will increase its planned content spend for 2021 and 2022 by an extra £40 million.

The streaming and linear success so far this year has been driven by a combination of established Channel 4 favourites and new titles performing well on All 4 and linear alike including Russel T Davies’s It’s A Sin, Gogglebox, Married at First Sight Australia and Caroline Flack: Her Life & Death.

All 4 views are currently up more than 30 per cent YTD and portfolio share +4 per cent while linear share too has continued to grow, currently up +5 per cent for all individuals for the main channel – the best start to the year since 2002.

Channel 4 also updated on the progress of its ‘4AlltheUK strategy’. It confirmed that it will officially open its National HQ in its permanent home in the Majestic in Leeds on September 6th and is set to be well ahead of its target of 300 roles based in the Nations & Regions by the end of 2021. It also confirmed that it is on track to spend 50 per cent of its original UK content spend with producers in the Nations & Regions in 2021, two years ahead of the original 2023 target.

Channel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon (pictured) commented: “Channel 4 is a uniquely British idea. We were created as a partner for others – taking money invested by advertisers and ploughing it into new ideas, new talent and social good for the benefit of our owners, the British people. As our results show, we are in excellent health. Our viewing share and streaming is up significantly, we have grown our digital revenues ahead of the market, and with a record financial surplus and a clear digital transformation strategy we are well positioned to continue delivering impact for UK audiences, particularly younger viewers, well into the future.

Mahon added: “We are successfully evolving our model for a new era where we are not just fuelling the engine of our world leading production sector but helping spread its impact outside of London and into different parts of the UK. As we emerge from the impact of one of the worst crises of our lifetime – I believe we are stronger and more able to deliver our purpose than ever.”

Channel 4 Chair, Charles Gurassa, added: “Against the background of unprecedented uncertainty and the volatility resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Channel 4 has delivered a record financial surplus together with increasing audiences and share and impressive growth in its on-demand digital audiences. Importantly, the year showed Channel 4 at its best as we entertained, comforted and informed millions across the UK throughout this unprecedented crisis. In a vitally important year for the future of public service broadcasting as both Government and Ofcom undertake reviews of the sector, these results underline the strength, popularity and sustainability of Channel 4 and the important cultural, social and economic impact that the organisation delivers for all the UK.”

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