AdvertisersCreativeFinanceMediaNewsPoliticsSocial MediaTechnology

Is becoming a “digital-first streamer” really the best option for the UK’s Channel 4?

Public-owned broadcaster is axing 18% of jobs

Things must be worse that we thought at UK terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4. It is axing 200 or so jobs, 18% of the workforce, including high profile CMO Zaid Al-Qassab and chief product officer Dave Cameron. CEO Alex Mahon and chief content officer (programme chief) Ian Katz are keeping theirs, for now.

All this under the guise of becoming Britain’s first “digital-first public-service streamer” by 2030, in a new spin on its Future4 strategy outlined in 2020.

C4 says this will get the channel “into the right shape for the 2030s and protect its long-term sustainability: focusing investment in distinctive, streaming-friendly British content and social media; growing diversified revenue streams; and re-engineering the business to become leaner, simpler and nimbler, divesting from legacy operations to support digital priorities.”

Mahon says: “Our new strategy will accelerate our digital transformation – building on 2020’s Future4 strategy and our founding public service principles – so Channel 4 remains a trusted, disruptive and distinctive brand into the 2030s, offering brilliant shows that people love and that matter.”

Streamers make money (when they do) by selling subscriptions. Will C4 start doing this and what does that mean for its free-to-air service, funded by advertising? If it becomes a streamer will give up its free channel and invaluable place high up the programme guide behind BBC and ITV?

We all know that so-called linear TV is going through a bad patch with the market in the UK dropping 11% or so in 2023. But C4 seems to have compounded this with poor programming and ad sales. That comes down to Mahon and Katz. Paramount’s Channel 5 seems to be doing rather better with its more limited ambitions.

This new blueprint for the future may well face challenges.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button