Channel 4 this week launches an internet television service through its website – the latest stage in plans for a massive boost in revenues and profits from new media activities over the next few years.
The broadcaster will provide a live stream of its programmes and the commercials in-between on its website for the first time. For audiences it means another viewing option, and for advertisers another way to reach them. Both are important, but the people facing the biggest impact could be those at media agencies.
The dawn of a credible online commercial TV service means that digital media agencies will come into direct competition with their above-the-line peers to a greater extent than ever before. A part of the marketing industry which to date has shunned the internet will find that it can no longer do so.
“It’s a massive thing for sales operations and agencies,” says Carat Digital joint managing director Henry Rowe. “What is deemed TV advertising and what is internet advertising? As the lines blur it’s going to be really interesting to see who wins out.”
For Channel 4, keeping the advertisers happy is also vital. Last year it had revenues of &£24.5m from its new media operations, but it wants this to rise tenfold by 2012, when the Government plans to turn off the analogue television signal. At that level its new media income would be equivalent to a third of its total revenues last year.