Channel 4 strikes deal to air 1,000 hours of hit shows for free on YouTube | Channel 4

Channel 4 is to make available 1,000 hours of hit shows from Location, Location, Location to SAS: Who Dares Wins on YouTube in the widest-ranging commercial deal the Silicon Valley giant has struck with a UK broadcaster.

Channel 4, which has struck the lucrative content and commercial partnership as it makes a last-ditch effort to stave off privatization, is aiming to reduce its dependence on traditional TV advertising and target young audiences as a digital-first broadcaster.

The partnership with YouTube, which is used by 98% of 18- to 34-year-old internet users each month, includes Channel 4 selling advertising around the programs, which will be available to viewers for free.

The deal also potentially marks the start of a new era of commercial deals between TV broadcasters and Silicon Valley, in a similar vein to those being struck between Google, Facebook and newspaper publishers such as News Corporation, owner of titles including The Sun, Times and Wall Street Journal.

In 2009, Channel 4 became the first broadcaster in the world to make thousands of hours of programming available on YouTube. However, the deal fell apart in 2014 with the broadcaster saying that the best way to get a return on its programming investment was to focus on making its shows available only on its own online and on-demand services.

For the best part of the last decade, most UK broadcasters have used YouTube only for promotional purposes, and none have agreed a wide-ranging programming deal, with Sky and BT dabbling with free-to-air distribution to boost audiences for some pay- TV programming such as the Champions League final.

“Innovative strategic partnerships are Channel 4’s specialty and this new relationship with YouTube is another which will ensure we continue to keep growing our reach with young audiences and build on our unrivaled digital success,” said Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4.

“Together with YouTube we have created a powerful consumer channel full of our brilliant Channel 4 content. This will engage even more viewers through the enhanced reach and digital scale of YouTube. ”

Last year, about a fifth of Channel 4’s total £ 1.2bn revenues came from digital advertising. The broadcaster forecasts that this will rise to 30% by 2025.

The deal will involve a combination of popular archive catch-up programming and new releases-after a 30-day window on Channel 4’s on-demand service All 4 after first being broadcast on TV-made available on YouTube starting from later this month.

“As an open platform, YouTube is where UK audiences of all ages and backgrounds come to watch what they want to watch, when they want to watch it,” said Ben McOwen Wilson, managing director of YouTube UK & Ireland. “It is fantastic to drive innovative partnerships such as this, to enable leading broadcasters to contribute to the diversity of content on the platform of choice for young viewers.”

Leave a Comment