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C4 sets new strategy, $40m format fund

The UK’s Channel 4 has unveiled a corporate strategy called Future4, which aims to help the commercial broadcaster thrive in the digital age and includes the creation of a £30m (US$40m) Global Format Fund.

Alex Mahon

As part of C4’s remit to “create change through entertainment,” the Future4 strategy, which was revealed by CEO Alex Mahon and chief operating officer Jonathan Allan during a virtual event yesterday, has set out three targets to achieve by 2025.

These are: to double viewership of Channel 4’s VoD platform All4; to increase digital advertising to at least 30% of total revenue; and to increase non-advertising to at least 10% of total revenue.

To achieve these targets, Future4 will focus on four key strategic pillars. The first, which covers content, will see C4 prioritise digital growth over linear ratings, which it will do by investing more in “highly distinctive, young-skewing” formats and using deeper audience insights to find shows that drive streaming.

It will also maximise the use of its Leeds-based digital content hub, 4Studio, to produce more original shorts and grow branded digital entertainment, while “continuing to be as noisy and unruly as ever and finding new inventive and entertaining ways of engaging people with the most important issues.”

The launch of the £30m Global Format Fund to invest in new formats created and produced in the UK with global potential also falls under the first strategic pillar. The funds will be invested over the next two years in genres “with the greatest potential for global success,” according to C4 director of commercial affairs Martin Baker.

“Through the fund, we will partner with a range of producers to create content focused on delivering both UK audience appeal and international exploitation potential and, we hope, a long tail of future revenues,” Baker said, adding that the primary focus will be on factual entertainment, entertainment and features.

Future4’s second strategic pillar focuses on C4’s viewers and putting them “at the heart” of its decision making. Through this, the broadcaster will use a more viewer-centric approach to inform activity and decisions across the channel; roll out personalisation features on All4; evolve how it commissions, schedules, plans, develops, sells and markets products; and create a better connection between C4’s editorial position and its brand.

The third strategic pillar covers the commercial aspect and diversifying new revenue streams to underpin sustainability. Through this, C4 will innovate its core advertising proposition for a digital world through data-driven targeting, including allowing clients to “bring their own data” to target All4 viewers.

It will also diversify revenue streams by making the most of its ad-free All4+ proposition and scaling its Indie Growth Fund and Channel 4 Ventures further, as well as the launch of the new Global Format Fund, while providing creative opportunities for clients, including ad-break takeovers and branded social content.

The fourth and final strategic pillar covers partnerships, through which C4 will focus on strategic alliances in order to compete more effectively. It will do this by building upon its network and forging new arrangements to get content in front of the right audiences more often, and by further developing mutually beneficial collaboration in production, advertising, distribution and technology.

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