Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Storm Brews over C4's Plus-One

Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Storm Brews over C4's Plus-One

Article excerpt

Channel 4's time-shift launch promises to galvanise ITV's clamouring against the restrictions of CRR.

The revelation that Channel 4 will this summer become the first broadcaster to launch a time-shifted version of its core terrestrial channel across all digital TV platforms (Marketing, 20 June) raises as many questions as it answers.

At face value, it seems yet another eminently logical and sensible defensive move by C4, which has come under pressure recently on both financial and political fronts.

Financially, it appears a masterstroke; according to figures released by Ofcom last week, digital television penetration has hit 80%, and with the digital switchover process starting next year, audiences, and therefore TV advertising budgets, are under further threat with the ensuing proliferation of channels.

History shows that the launch of 'plus-ones' (spin-offs running one hour later than the main channel) has become an established way of protecting - and in some cases increasing - audiences on the core channel. According to TV insiders, these spin-offs can contribute between 20% and 35% of a channel's total audience.

E4+1 and Film4+1, which are available on all digital platforms, each contributed 29% of audience share for their respective mother channels in all multi-channel homes in April. For UKTV Documentary, the impact was more dramatic, with 33% of its share supplied by its plus-one. For the August launch of C4+1, the uplift could be more profound still, depending on its position on the electronic programme guide (EPG).

For media buyers, this is where the problems start. While most welcome the additional opportunity to target C4's predominately young and upmarket audience, there are concerns over how they will actually sell the C4+1 audience; the channel, which has yet to formally confirm the launch, has not announced what its sales policy is for C4+1.

Andy Zonfrillo, investment director at MindShare, says: 'The terrestrial channel commands a premium for reasons such as scale and profile. If C4+1 runs identical ads breaks that are just time-shifted, then agencies would argue they didn't have the same value and would treat it as a separate channel.'

For the TV community as a whole, there are greater ramifications, and the launch is not universally welcomed. …

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