Channel 4’s E4’s launch as a free-to-air channel on Freeview is being brought forward to coincide with the start of the sixth series of Big Brother in May.
Media buyers are expecting the entertainment channel will have an impact on ITV2, which is already available on Freeview, because it will reach a further 4.5 million homes than it does at present, and will receive a further &£20m programming investment.
Starcom Europe Middle East and Africa managing partner Andy Roberts says: “The move is a bonus for E4, but it will hit the music channels and ITV2 on Freeview.”
Time-shifted channel E4+1 will also be put on Freeview. For the year to date, E4 and E4+1 have taken a 3.05 per cent share of all commercial impacts for 16- to 34-year-olds, while ITV2 has taken a 3.59 per cent share.
Channel 4 will no longer receive subscription revenue from BSkyB, but E4 will continue to be transmitted on satellite exclusively as part of the Sky Digital package.
Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan says: “We’re forecasting an uplift in ratings and advertising revenues, which we expect to exceed lost subscription revenues.”
Coverage of E4 on cable will be uninterrupted and Channel 4 has served notice that it intends to withdraw E4 from Top-Up TV’s package, where it is marketed as a pay-TV add-on to the main free-to-air Freeview service.