LONDON, UK — While most UK public service broadcasters remain intent on growing their own cross-platform streaming environments, Channel 4 is has decided it also needs to find audiences in the other places they go to watch video.

Ad-funded but with a public remit to take creative risks, Channel 4, which celebrates its 40th birthday in 2022, is monetizing those audiences with digital-style, data-driven connected TV ad capabilities.

In this video interview with me at Beet.TV’s London summit, Jonathan Lewis, Head of Commercial Innovation & Partners, Channel 4, explained what is going on.

Distributing widely

UK main PSB services are BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4’s All4, Channel 5’s My5, S4C Clic and STV Player, with the ad-funded ones now leveraging masses of registered-user accounts to perform advanced ad targeting.

Channel 4’s strategy calls for 30% of revenue from digital (currently 21%) and two billion views to All4 (currently 1.5 billion) by 2025. But the company isn’t confining its auspice to just All4, which from 2023 will be renamed simply “Channel 4”.

In June 2022, it started distributing some full-length shows on YouTube and in October it launched a new YouTube channel, Channel 4.0, with new short-form commissions.

Embracing YouTube

“We’ve recognised that we’re not always going appeal to the likes of my 16-year-old daughter if we continue trying to try and push water uphill, so to speak, to get those teenagers to watch All4,” Lewis says.

“We are creating bespoke, youth-based content for platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Snap, Meta.”

Lewis says putting shows on YouTube was “controversial”: “There were considerations around whether or not it was actually going cannibalise our owned-and-operated business.

“It hasn’t done that. We track the performance of viewing to content pre and post upload on YouTube. We’ve seen in some instances, to certain shows – particularly some of our younger shows where we do struggle to find youth audiences on All4 – where content has actually spiked on our owned-and-operated (platform) once it’s been uploaded on YouTube.

“It is interesting to see that audience flow back into our streaming platform.”

Switching-on off-platform

Going off-platform may also be interesting to the UK’s other public service broadcasters.

They have spent the last 10 years operating the same playbook as other industry players, building their own viewing platforms so that they can own their own audience and, by implication, their audience data for advertising.

Market research shows, however, that younger viewers are increasingly to be found in services like YouTube, Netflix and Instagram at the expense of broadcaster services.

Channel 4’s moves suggest it is possible to go off-platform and grow your own platform.

Shopper data for TV

So, what of that platform? Available across device types, Channel 4’s All4 claims 24 million registered users, offering:

  • Demographic ad targeting, against its own collected data.
  • Interest-based targeting, using a panel of 250,000 people, modelled-up against its All4 users.
  • Contextual targeting against type of show.
  • Brandmatch, a bring-your-own-data product leveraging Infosum and Mediarithmics clean room software; advertisers can use it to target their own customers or prospects within the All4 base.
  • Approved first-party data segments from selected data vendors.
  • Bespoke segments.

Lewis says it all improves the offering for existing advertisers, but can also usher-in a new kind of ad buyer.

“Brandmatch was also designed to open up that long tail of clients that are spending on the digital platforms,” he says. “There’s hundreds of thousands of them, those kind of D2C-like brands that we can fill with more sophisticated targeted products.”

In one example, the supermarket Sainsbury’s is using transactional data from its Nectar loyalty card scheme to target All4 viewers based on their shopping behaviour – something Lewis thinks could “super-charge” the retail category.

You’re watching ‘Looking Ahead: TV in Europe 2025’ a Beet.TV Leadership Summit presented by Magnite & Publica, in partnership with egta. All videos were filmed on-site at our event at London’s Soho Hotel. For more videos from this series, please visit this page.