Channel 4 gears up for Ad-Funded Programming

Channel 4 is hoping to help match indies with commercial partners in a bid to create more ad-funded programming (AFP) for television and online.

The broadcaster revealed last week that it was creating a commercial development team to “bridge the gap” between its sales team, advertisers and independent production companies.

Emma Derrick will head up the division when she joins from Channel 5 in late June, and C4 Head of Digital Partnerships and Innovation Jonathan Lewis said the immediate focus would be on “helping indies commercialise” their content by increasing AFP. He said no tangible deals are likely to be done until Derrick starts work, but confirmed that C4 already has brands on board to help launch shows on 4shorts.

C4 is aiming to commission original content for the online short-form content platform in the second half of this year, and will work with indies to package programming for advertisers. The new team’s work will also extend into TV following C4’s deal with Waitrose and Spun Gold last month for ad-funded cookery show Weekend Kitchen.

Lewis stressed that Derrick would have “an open brief ”. He added: “This model is designed to leverage our relationships for the benefit of C4 and its indies. We will look at things like ad-funded programming, but each deal or partnership will depend on the indie.” The move is part of a wider C4 strategy to generate more revenue, especially via its online platforms.

C4’s online revenues were £61m in 2013, which included syndication and sponsorship deals. This was up 15% from £53m in 2012 and Lewis said the new commercial strategy will grow this figure “significantly” over the next year, adding: “This commercial development team will be very entrepreneurial. The strategy is all part of setting out our stall to be the future of TV, and we want to be innovative in how we create new business models.”

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