Approaching a fifth of all Channel 4 viewing now comes from online. The broadcaster, which is the third most viewed in the United Kingdom, had its best month for online viewing in March, up 40% compared to the previous year.

The total of 6.9 billion online viewer minutes in March 2024 compares to 4.9 billion online viewer minutes the previous March. It was the highest number since BARB started reporting in November 2021 and beat the previous record from October 2023.

The broadcaster reported that 18% of all Channel 4 viewing now comes from online. That is comparable to the BBC but ahead of ITV, for which ITVX accounted for 11% of its viewing in 2023.

Industry figures from BARB show that in the first quarter of 2024, 33% of all Channel 4 viewing by those aged 16-34 is now online, compared to 29% in the first quarter of 2023.

Channel 4 remains the public service broadcaster with the youngest profile of online viewers, with 27% of viewing from young audiences.

Channel 4 is now pursuing a Fast Forward strategy to become an online-first public service media company.

Numbers in the billions of viewing minutes sound impressive, but what do they really mean? Well, it works out at about 3.7 million hours a day in month, which is equivalent to 3.7 million people watching an hour-long programme. It is a little more than the audience for the England against Belgium football match on Channel 4, which beat Googlebox to the be the most viewed Channel 4 programme in the last week of March.

Given its public service remit, Ian Katz, the chief content officer of Channel 4 was keen to highlight factual programming combining purpose and scale, like The Jury: Murder Trial in which a murder trial was restaged with two juries. This four-part series registered 214 million online viewing minutes over its three hours, or about 1.19 million views per episode.

The four-part documentary series The Rise and Fall of Boris Johnson produced 141 million online viewer minutes or 2.35 million viewer hours over its 3 hours 45 minutes. On the other hand, Married at First Sight Australia has produced 1.4 billion online viewing minutes for series 11 so far.

Since the average viewing per person of Channel 4 programmes in March in television and internet households was just under 17.5 minutes a day, this online viewing is not insignificant.