What does our Future4 strategy means for producers?

We are shifting the focus of our commissioning effort from finding shows that will drive our linear audiences to shows that will drive our digital growth.

That means we’ll be spending more on the types of content that perform strongly on VoD: young skewing factual entertainment and constructed factual formats, “box-setable” documentary series, reality, comedy entertainment, scripted comedy and young skewing, bingeable drama.

We especially want shows that can scale to high volume in success. We’ll be ordering fewer single films and, over time, fewer individual titles. Outside of current affairs we are only looking for singles which will create a real splash, or solve a particular scheduling problem.

We will make our commissioning and recommissioning decisions based on projected audiences across our platforms, but prioritising projected VoD viewing. We will always share data on the VoD and social performance of their shows with producers.

We are continually working on understanding the editorial characteristics that can give content an edge on Channel 4. We are also developing a new way of segmenting and understanding our audience. We will provide briefings for producers to share some of these insights and explain what success for a show looks like on Channel 4.

We are working towards boxsetting most of our content on Channel 4 at launch, and to premiering some of it on Channel 4 before linear TX. That means we’ll be asking for producers’ help to ensure that whole series are delivered ahead of Ep 1 TX, and that necessary compliance steps have been taken to enable box-setting. Because recommission decisions are taken based on performance across all platforms, we will always take into account the potential impact of box-setting on linear performance.

In order to increase our spend on VoD-driving content, including exclusive acquisitions for Channel 4, we need to make our money go further. That means maintaining a mixed ecosystem of higher and lower tariff shows.

In unscripted genres, we will continue to offer high tariffs for shows that both create real impact for the channel and attract strong VoD viewing. But we will increasingly be seeking creative approaches – e.g. co-production, pre-buy, AFP, content finance – to fund them.

We will also continue to look for a number of shows at low tariffs (£100k and under/hour) for some slots. Scripted tariffs will remain unchanged though we will be looking for more opportunities to co-produce or fund projects in innovative ways.

Our broad editorial priorities – innovative ideas that will deliver scale, noise and fun – remain unchanged but, over the next 12-18 months, we are putting the emphasis on fun. We want shows that will deliver joy in a joyless time. And of course we always want shows that will cause a
splash, make trouble, challenge conventional wisdom. 

We have heard your feedback and we want to work more efficiently with indies by briefing more tightly around our needs, and developing in a more targeted way. That means we will generally only take meetings with producers pitching a top-line idea that meets our commissioning priorities.

We don’t want to waste producers’ and commissioners’ time on ideas that are unlikely to get over the line, so we will say no quicker, and commission fewer paid developments. We’ll always keep producers updated on the progress of their ideas and aim to speed up both our decision-making and contract issuing processes.

We want to ensure that Channel 4 is particularly accessible to minority ethnic led and Nations and Regions indies, so we will track and set targets for the amount of business we do with them. But we think it’s more important to help smaller suppliers reach sustainable levels of production, than to commission the largest number of companies possible, so that means we expect the total number of producers we work with to fall.

As part of our effort to develop new sources of revenue, and to stimulate innovation, we have launched the £30 million Global Format Fund through which we will commission new UK formats that we believe could succeed on Channel 4 and in the international market. We will offer a number of guarantees around these shows (more information in our Global Format Fund brief) and will seek in return an equal share of international sales.

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