U.K.-based producer and channel operator Barcroft Media is launching its digital channels via a dedicated app and piloting new programming on the service.
“As we’ve watched linear audience decline, we’ve found young audiences in particular look to find content in many different places so it was a natural extension of our network to have a branded app that people can access on a phone, a stick, or TV,” said Sam Barcroft.
Barcroft generates about 40% of its global YouTube views, and the bulk of its advertising revenues, from the U.S. Having looked at the data, the company says the sweet spot for viewing is between six and 11 minutes, and it has greenlit several “midform” pilots in this category. “Let’s Stray Together” will explore polygamy, “Miami Law” is a courtroom observational documentary, and “Get Nailed” is a reality show set in a Las Vegas nail salon.
The Barcroft founder says that linear networks are finding it tough to commission factual programming for the young demographic, which is watching less scheduled, traditional TV, opening up a digital opportunity. “We’re trying to take advantage of that, in the way MTV did 30 years ago with music television. We think there’s a gap in the market that is pretty wide.”
The traditional British channels are being pitched more programming than ever, at a time when they are allocating less time to factual content, squeezing producers in the sector, Barcroft added. “Sky in the U.K. has stopped commissioning factual [for Sky1], ITV has been commissioning its wholly-owned companies a lot more, and Channel 4 has made a bigger push to drama, so there is a factual commissioning famine,” he said.
The Barcroft channels are live via Amazon Fire and Roku and will soon launch for Apple and Android devices. The app launches Monday for Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba and LG smart TVs.