Channel 4: In the era of fake news, we still want to be a hit with young people

New Channel 4 CEO, Alex Mahon, explains why the broadcaster will focus on making a connection with young viewers by reflecting their “democratic values”.

Channel 4 is refocusing on making programmes that resonate with millennial viewers as it looks to strike a connection with young people and stand out in the era of fake news.

Speaking at the Channel 4 2018 Upfronts event yesterday (14 November), new CEO Alex Mahon explained the importance of creating content for the youth market.

“A big focus for us next year will be on making sure Channel 4 is still a big hit with young people. Particularly in the era of fake news, we are a place that reflects British democratic values. We have that opportunity to [connect] with young people more than anybody else. We’re a trusted source for them,” claimed Mahon.

Speaking at the same event, Channel 4 sales director, Jonathan Allen, confirmed the broadcaster’s 16- to 34-year-old audience is at the same level as 2016, with the Great British Bake Off a particular hit, given it accounts for six of the top 10 shows among young audiences this year so far.

“Despite the success of [ITV 2 show] Love Island, it’s important to know that E4 grew it’s young share by 2% with the continued success of shows like Made in Chelsea, Tattoo Fixers and Celebs Go Dating,” said Allen.

“Hollyoaks maintains its scale as one of the biggest shows for youth on television, delivering 50% more reach among 16 to 34s than Love Island.”

Views on Channel 4’s video-on-demand (VOD) service All 4 rose 14% year on year to 557 million. October was the VOD platform’s biggest month ever, thanks in large part to viewers catching up on the Great British Bake Off, which has amassed almost 15 million views to date. According to Allen, All 4 is watched by over 60% of all young adults in the country, who make up a significant chunk of the platform’s more than 16 million viewers.

The broadcaster is hoping that the return of Bake Off in 2018, including a celebrity edition airing in the spring, new E4 reality TV show Five Star Hotel featuring Made in Chelsea’s Spencer Matthews and the release of Real Narcos, a three-part series investigating the drugs trade in South America, will grab the attention of the youth market.

Mahon emphasised Channel 4’s ability to break new shows both on TV and online. “The opportunity we have, that some of the others don’t, is that we’ve got a big digital presence and also the linear channels,” she explained.

“The combination of those two things is a real asset and we’re in a very rare place where we can build and launch new brands, whether that’s programme brands, talent brands, our own channel brands or advertiser brands.”

READ MORE: Channel 4 unveils first Great British Bake Off sponsors

Targeted approach

Channel 4 also used the Upfronts event to confirm that from next year all advertising on its All 4 platform will be personalised or targeted across TV, mobile, tablet and games consoles.

With the introduction of mandatory registration across VOD in the New Year, Channel 4 will have first-party data on all its All 4 viewers, enabling the broadcaster to personalise the digital experience based on age, gender, location, interests and behaviour.

Channel 4 values its digital business at more than £100m, with programmatic advertising now representing 75% of digital revenues. The broadcaster is redoubling its focus on the programmatic market by taking a 25% stake in the European Broadcaster Exchange (EBX), a newly created digital ad sales venture expected to launch in early 2018.

Devised in partnership with ProSiebenSat.1 in Germany, TF1 in France and Mediaset in Italy and Spain, the joint venture aims to establish a European VOD exchange catering for the growing demand for multi-territory programmatic video campaigns.

Channel 4’s first foray into the pan-European digital ad sales market, the EBX will enable the four partners to access digital revenues across ad markets in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy by making additional inventory available on their on-demand platforms.

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