Channel 4 on-demand takes advertising

Channel 4 is introducing advertising on its 4oD video-on-demand (VOD) service as the broadcaster moves from a pay model to free-to-view.

Chief executive Andy Duncan says the broadcaster will begin taking ads on the broadband service later this month.

Currently viewers pay between 99p and £1.99 to download content such as Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty, as well as programming from the broadcaster’s archives. The service launched in December.

Duncan unveiled the new strategy at this week’s Thinkbox Experience conference.

It is thought the advertising will appear ahead of downloaded content, although Duncan says the platform offers a “learning curve” for broadcasters and agencies. He says: “I am not sure the 30-second spot is the way to advertise on the internet.”

C4 has appointed CheetahMail, the Experian-owned e-mail marketing and web analytics company, to spearhead an online marketing drive aimed at attracting new viewers and encouraging audience loyalty for 4oD.

The broadcaster is also ramping up its use of social networking and sharing sites such as MySpace and YouTube as it puts “community at the core of its online strategy” (MW February 15).

The free-to-air move echoes C4’s decision to broadcast Film4 as an ad-supported Freeview channel, instead of as a subscription service. It also comes ahead of rival ITV’s relaunch of its broadband site. ITV says it will offer advertiser-supported VOD for free when it launches later this month.

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