Channel 4 Posts Record Revenues for 2015; Plans for Privatization Scrapped

Channel 4 UK Logo
Courtesy of Channel 4

British broadcaster Channel 4 has reported record revenues of £979 million ($1.4 billion) in 2015, seeing an increased audience share for its main channel and its highest ever spend on production content.

The channel’s 2015 annual report, which was published on May 10, showed an improvement in revenue growth for the company, up 4.4% year-on-year compared to its 3% growth last year.

A record £629 million ($907.5 million) was spent on content for the year, with £455 million ($656 million) of that spent on originally commissioned TV, film and digital content, another record high for the company.

The news comes shortly after Brit newspaper The Telegraph reported that the U.K. government will not seek to fully privatize Channel 4, an idea that had been previously been speculated. However, according to the report, it may seek to sell off a minority stake to a strategic partner and open Channel 4’s accounts to National Audit Office scrutiny.

“As is publicly known, the government has stated it is reviewing options for the organization’s future ownership and as I write we await further news from that process,” said Channel 4 chair Charles Gurassa in a statement included in the report. “In the meantime it is my responsibility as chair to ensure the board retains full focus on the fulfilment of Channel 4’s statutory functions.”

In 2015, Channel 4 saw a 30% year-on-year growth in total digital revenues, up to £82 million ($118.3 million), while targeted ad revenue accounted for 31% of the channel’s digital ad revenue in 2015.

Thanks to the success of new programs such as “Humans,” “No Offence,” “Hunted,” “SAS: Who Dares Wins,” the channel’s main viewing share was up marginally at 1% overall, but up 8% across peak time hours of 7pm-11pm and its share of 16-34 year-old viewers was up 2% overall and up 7% in peak times.

Revenue for 4Sales, the broadcaster’s commercial arm which includes third party sales for a number of broadcasters including BT Sport, grew by 9% to £1.17 billion ($1.7 billion), making it the fifth year in a row it has exceeded the £1 billion ($1.4 billion) figure.

“Channel 4 had a record impact on audiences and the U.K.’s creative sector in 2015 with our investment in original content, our commercial revenues and, critically, the delivery of our public service remit, all at their highest ever levels,” said chief exec David Abraham. “We expect this impact and growth to continue in 2016 and, as a wide range of independent experts have concluded, our focus on both creative and commercial innovation has positioned us very strongly for the future.”

Plans for the channel’s future will be reportedly finalised later this year after the government’s plans for the BBC have been completed. A white paper on the BBC reforms is due to be released this week.