Channel 4 in the United Kingdom has revealed a five-year plan to accelerate its pivot to online services. Its Future4 strategy aims to double viewing on its All 4 online service and deliver 30% of its revenues from online advertising, up from 14% in 2019 and on track for 17% in 2020. The revised purpose for the commercial public service broadcaster is to ‘create change through entertainment’.

The four pillars of the strategy are to prioritise ‘digital’ growth over ‘linear’ ratings, to put viewers at the heart of decision making, diversity new revenue streams to underpin sustainability, and to focus on strategic partnerships to compete more effectively.

The strategy was outlined by Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon. “Since it was founded, Channel 4 has invested over £11 billion in original British television and we have always been different from other media companies in the way we play our role in that thriving economy,” she said.

“Our ongoing focus is to continue to deliver our purpose and remit with meaningful scale and impact and I’m incredibly proud that we have already moved our viewing and our advertising revenues to digital at a faster rate than our competitors. We want to push this even further still, and our new Future4 strategy is about underpinning our commercial sustainability and ensuring that we have a clear plan to transform ourselves into a digital public service media organisation that delivers across the whole of the UK for the future.”

All 4 identity

With 24 million registered users, viewing of All 4 is up 27% in 2020, with a billion views across all platforms in the first eleven months of the year.

The broadcaster says that all of its commissioning, scheduling and commercial strategy will be optimised towards growing views and revenue on All 4, with a much greater focus on investing in content that can deliver long-term digital viewing growth.

The business will roll-out a much more sophisticated data-led targeting model to inform its content, marketing and product development strategy. It says that this will in no way replace the creative development process but will be allied with the expertise of commissioners and their production partners to better inform and aid the development of content.

Channel 4 will also promote the take up of All 4+, the ad-free version of its on-demand service, with new content, features and product enhancements.

Ian Katz, the director of programmes, described his priorities as an increased focus on investing more in content that performs strongly on All 4.

“To ensure that Channel 4 remains a relevant and vibrant voice in a digital world we know we must now bring all the passion, originality and disruptive flair that we brought to the world of terrestrial television 38 years ago, to the world of streaming and social media.”

Channel 4 will also step up its commitment to original short form content distributed on social media, from its new digital content hub, 4Studio, based in Leeds.