Channel 4 targets the TikTok generation with viral videos Business

Channel 4 is preparing to target the TikTok generation with a new production arm as it fights to stay relevant to young viewers and ‘future-proof’ the business as ministers prepare for its privatisation.

The broadcaster will start creating viral video content on social media apps including Snap, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube to boost its digital ad revenue and attract more young people to its catch-up service, All4.

The unit is part of an expansion of 4Studio, a digital creative arm which is one of the driving forces behind its strategy to wean Channel 4 from traditional TV advertising in favor of doubling the viewership of All 4 and securing 30% of sales through digital ads.

Although the station is not allowed to make its own shows under rules set by Margaret Thatcher’s government to support the UK production industry, the broadcaster can make short creative videos to reach young viewers via the media social.

Matt Risley, managing director of 4Studio, said the production unit will create content between six and 60 seconds in length.

He said: “We’re going to be producing small, responsive, ephemeral content to try and tap into the conversation that’s happening on social media.

“It’s very different from a 60-minute scripted drama commissioned for television. 4Studio’s intention is to prepare us for the future and to have bitten our company which is able to react to the conversations that are happening day after day on social apps.

“Understanding what works with social audiences and how to reach them will only trickle down to digital go-live briefs for freelancers.”

Chief executive Alex Mahon has been pushing to make Channel 4 a ‘digital-first’ broadcaster through its on-demand streaming service, All 4, after its finances were cut during the pandemic following a sharp decline in television broadcasting.

Channel 4 launched 4Studio to support the growth of All 4, which attracted registrations of 80% from all 16-34 year olds and increased streaming views by 26% to 1.25 billion in 2020.

The unit has already commissioned digital content targeting young audiences, from advertiser-sponsored branded videos to original content released first on social media.

His exclusive commissions include Celebrity Rebrand, a series in which Youtube comedian Amelia Dimoldenberg revises the images of celebrities such as Jimmy Carr and Clare Balding to make them fit for the digital age.

Mr Risley said the work of 4Studio Productions would be inspired by viral hitmakers, who find trends on the internet, come up with a creative idea, before scripting, shooting, editing and publishing within hours.

It comes as the privatization of Channel 4 is set to begin next year, with a sale expected to close by early 2024 at a price of around £1billion.

However, the government faces a major political backlash from opposition parties and its own backbenchers. The House of Lords is expected to try to block government efforts to sell the channel in hopes it can be postponed until the next election.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-17 08:00:00

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