Channel 4 and Sky have renewed and expanded their existing partnership in a deal that will give the terrestrial broadcaster the opportunity to unlock new digital advertising revenues.
This move will support the delivery of Channel 4's Future4 strategy. As well as setting new targets to make more money from digital advertising, Future4 includes plans to use more first-party data from users of its video-on-demand platform, All 4, and scale up 4Studio, its Leeds-based digital content hub.
Using technologies from FreeWheel – one of the biggest ad servers in the world – the continued union means Channel 4’s advertising inventory across linear and on demand will become addressable, allowing the broadcaster to further improve its content monetisation across Sky’s platforms.
The deal builds on the existing partnership by extending the current agreement for several years, ensuring that Sky customers continue to have easy access to Channel 4 brands and content across Sky’s products. All 4 will continue to be integrated into all of Sky’s existing and future TV products and customers will be offered a broader range of content, including more than 1,000 hours of All 4 Exclusives.
This is in addition to comprehensive catch-up and a wide range of Channel 4 “box sets”, including upfront box set stacks (where entire series are made available ahead of linear broadcast).
The deal was originally announced in 2018 and was heralded as the first of its kind as the rival broadcasters became more collaborative in the face of online competition from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. A year later, Channel 4 Sales announced it had plans to integrate with Sky Adsmart, which it has now done, thus enhancing its partnership with Sky Media, to better tailor ads to different pay TV households.
Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, said: “When we set out our Future4 strategy last year, we made clear that securing strategic distribution partnerships would be a vital part of ensuring we can maximise our reach and impact with viewers in a digital age, grow our revenues and compete more effectively for the future. I’m delighted to have agreed this deal, which extends a longstanding and incredibly successful partnership between Channel 4 and Sky.”
The move is will also benefit from CFlight, the industry’s first unified advertising metric that captures all live, on-demand and time-shifted commercial impressions. The tool uses combined linear TV and broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) data to show media buyers what the overall advertising exposure is for their TV campaigns, notably reach and frequency metrics.
Privatisation of the terrestrial channel is on the agenda, after Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, confirmed last month he would hold a consultation on a possible sale of the broadcaster. The channel was set up by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1982 to offer alternative and diverse programming and has remained publicly owned, although it receives no public subsidy and is funded chiefly through advertising.
Stephen van Rooyen, executive vice-president and chief executive, UK and Europe at Sky, said: “We know how much Sky customers love Channel 4’s content so it’s great that we’ve secured an extension, and expansion, to our existing agreement. This brings Sky customers more of what they want and supports Channel 4 to deliver on their key priorities, all while providing both parties with long-term confidence in the strategic partnership.
"The expansion of Channel 4’s content, alongside Sky’s existing partnerships, and the impressive slate of Sky Originals planned for this year, makes it even easier for Sky customers to access everything they love, in one place.”
In the latter part of 2020, Sky finalised a multi-year European partnership with Amazon, launching Prime Video on Sky and Now TV devices, and signed long-term partnerships with Entertainment One and Studiocanal.
Sky customers already have access to content from Netflix, Disney+, Warner Media (HBO), Showtime, Discovery, Fox, Sony among many other partners in each of Sky’s markets. Additionally, Sky has brought lifestyle and entertainment apps like Fiit, Roxi and Peloton onto Sky Q.