Channel 4, like most broadcasters, is hunting for new audiences. The proliferation of other options in both social video and OTT has left many of the traditional broadcasters on the back foot. While others including the BBC have moved their pieces around on the board in order to bring audiences back to their owned and operated channels, Channel 4 has been proactive in creating content for younger audiences where they already spend time online.
As part of that Channel 4 and Snap Inc. have announced a two-year deal, which will see 1,000 episodes of the broadcaster’s hit shows available on Snapchat. It follows a partnership in 2020 in which over 300 short-form edits of Channel 4 content aired on Snapchat’s Discover platform. The success of that partnership was measured according to key KPIs, which included the 44 million unique global viewers across that content.
Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said: “Channel 4 has a unique brand strength with young people and we’re going further and faster than our competitors to ensure that we can reach them with UK-produced public service content, such as Hollyoaks, on platforms like Snapchat where they’re spending more of their time. The renewal of our long-term partnership with Snap is a brilliant example of this strategy. It’s delivered from our Leeds-based 4Studio team and supports the growth of our digital viewing and revenues.”
The partnership is in service of reaching younger audiences. Snapchat currently reaches over 90% of 13-24-year-olds in the UK and over 400 million people watched shows on Snapchat last year.
Investing in the future
It comes as fresh questions arise about Channel 4’s future. The UK government is reportedly keen to offer the channel for privatization next year, though those conversations also require the channel’s public service commitment to news coverage to be maintained. It also depends on the channel’s commercial proposition in the new age of digital broadcasting.
A source familiar with Channel 4 said that the ad revenues from the sale of all C4 content on Snapchat is shared between Snap and Channel 4, and as such 4Sales is selling Channel 4 inventory on Snap, but notes that the specific deal terms are commercially sensitive.
New Channel 4 content to be featured on Snapchat’s Discover includes shows like SAS: Who Dares Wins, Ackley Bridge and Snackmasters; more episodes of titles such as How Not to be Racist, Married at First Sight UK, Mashed, Tattoo Fixers, Teen First Dates and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown; and original 4Studio titles including How To Get Rich, Would You Rather and Trash to Cash.
In line with much social video content, each episode will average five minutes in length and will be ‘paced for mobile’ consumption. YouTube launched its own Shorts format rolled out to over 100 countries this week, cementing the idea that short- to mid-length content is extremely viable on mobile devices. The short-form content will be edited and delivered by Channel 4’s Leeds-based 4Studio team.
When asked, Channel 4 confirmed: “As 4Studio continues to focus on how best to super-serve young audiences with different types of content, it is possible that some series could be commissioned for bespoke platforms in future.”
As both an effort to attract and retain younger audiences and as a commercial proposition, the partnership between Channel 4 and Snap Inc. makes sense. The mentality of ‘if you build it they will come’ has previously let down the traditional broadcasters who have simply invested in content alone; it is demonstrable that you also have to invest in smart distribution strategies.