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Channel 4 breaks several revenue and audience records – weakening privatization plans

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

July 15, 2022 | 4 min read

Channel 4 has released its annual report for 2021, detailing video-on-demand (VOD) growth and commercial records.

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The results are a boost for Channel 4 amid privatization threats

As a UK public broadcaster, it is required to show its working each year – but more than ever a close eye will be cast over its performance as it fights off the privatization efforts of a freshly crumbled Conservative government.

For the first time ever Channel 4 breached £1bn for the first time, up 25% year-on-year to £1.2bn. It’s also swollen with a record pre-tax surplus of £101m. A big part of this growth was the fact that its digital advertising wing grew by 40% year-on-year to make up nearly one-fifth (19%) of revenues.

This was catalyzed by a record (get used to seeing that word) amount of views funneled through its digital streaming service All 4. It hit 1.5bn views, a solid rung in its mission to hit 2bn by 2025.

The broadcaster now has net cash reserves of £272m and net assets of £556m. It comes as advertisers speak out against privatization, fearing they wouldn’t reach the diverse audiences Channel 4 is tasked with serving if its public service mandate was watered down.

On the investment front, it also spent some £671m on content – its third-highest investment. £492m was spent on originated content, up 33% on 2020. 55% of this was sourced from independent producers based in the Nations and Regions, which is also – you guessed it – a record.

Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, said: “2021 was an outstanding year of creative excellence, exceptional digital growth and record-breaking financial performance that saw Channel 4 over-deliver on its remit and successfully continue its transformation into a digital-first PSB.

“These results demonstrate that Channel 4’s business model delivers dynamic growth, revenue diversification and long-term sustainability. Financially, Channel 4 is in the most robust health it has ever been and our results have laid the foundations for ongoing investment, financial success and stability.”

Earlier this year, research from the media brand found that a mere 4% of UK TV ads featured disabled characters in 2021. It was doing most of the heavy lifting to bring that stat up too.

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