Channel 4 has revealed an ambitious five-year strategy, titled “Fast Forward,” aimed at reshaping the organization and propelling its transformation into an agile, digital-first public service streamer by 2030. The plan seeks to embrace the generational shift in TV viewing, positioning Channel 4 prominently in the global entertainment landscape and amidst social media giants.
The Fast Forward strategy focuses on steering Channel 4 towards the 2030s, ensuring long-term sustainability by investing in distinctive British content and social media, cultivating diversified revenue streams, and streamlining the business for increased efficiency. Legacy operations will be divested to support digital priorities.
Channel 4 initiated its Future4 strategy in 2020, shifting from traditional broadcasting to digital. Outperforming peers, digital revenues constituted 27% of total revenues in the previous year, compared to approximately 10% for other commercial broadcasters. The goal is to increase this to 30% by 2024 and surpass the 50% tipping point by 2030. Non-advertising revenue already represents 10%, and streaming viewing time grew by 24% in 2023.
The Fast Forward strategy builds on this momentum, aiming to propel Channel 4 into the 2030s as a trusted, disruptive, and distinctive brand. The plan focuses on reaching new generations of viewers, fulfilling its public service remit, and maintaining a rebellious spirit within British creative and cultural life.
Alex Mahon, CEO, said: “Channel 4 was designed to be ahead of the curve and has never stood still. The rate of change in our market is only speeding up. Our new strategy will accelerate our digital transformation – building on 2020’s Future4 strategy and our founding public service principles – so Channel 4 remains a trusted, disruptive and distinctive brand into the 2030s, offering brilliant shows that people love and that matter.
“We are genuinely excited about the future. Channel 4 means something to British people – we are trusted, we are a beacon for quality, we stand out for fresh and exciting ideas that matter and will be even more important in a crowded landscape of global content.
“While getting ourselves into the right shape for the future is without doubt the right action to take, it does involve making difficult decisions. I am very sad that some of our excellent colleagues will lose their jobs because of the changes ahead. But the reality of the rapid downshift in the UK economy and advertising market demand that we must change structurally. As we shift our centre of gravity from linear to digital our proposals will focus cost reductions on legacy activity. In preparing for a new digital-first future, I hope we can make Channel 4 simpler – for staff and our suppliers – and create a more efficient, inclusive and high performing organisation.”
The Fast Forward strategy rests on three strategic pillars:
- Digital Growth and Transformation:
Channel 4 will accelerate its digital-first commissioning strategy, with increased investment in streaming-friendly content like drama, documentaries, comedy, and reality. The focus includes simplifying the Commissioning team, generating fewer but stronger titles, doubling social views through 4Studio, and enhancing the streaming platform’s user experience.
- Diversified New Businesses:
Investment in growth businesses will aim to scale diversified revenue streams. This includes exploring intellectual property ownership, doubling Channel 4+’s ad-free tier members, building an ecommerce business, leveraging FAST channels, and forming new distribution partnerships.
- Reengineering the Business for a Digital-First World:
To stay competitive, Channel 4 will reduce operational costs, particularly from legacy activities. This involves a proposed 18% reduction in headcount, moving out of London, and closing small linear channels that no longer deliver significant revenues or public value at scale.
Despite proposed changes, Channel 4 remains committed to its target of 600 roles across the Nations and Regions by 2025, harnessing its regional structure to boost impact, investment, and job opportunities across the UK. The organization will continue championing independent TV and film production, nurturing talent, and supporting the creative industries.