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C4 online viewers edge to 5m

David Abraham’s vision of using data to reinvent Channel 4’s relationship with viewers and advertisers is gathering pace, as it closes in on 5 million registered viewers online.

Registrations have increased from 2 million at the end of 2011 to a rate of about 10,000 a day this year. And more than 60% of video-on-demand viewing on Channel4.com is now by registered users, according to director of audience technologies and insight Gill Whitehead.

She said: “We are starting to see the possible ways of cutting the information, and we’re working with commissioning, marketing and ad sales to find the most valuable way of looking at it.”

One focus is on engaging viewers – C4 will aim to offer two online premieres or exclusive pieces of content a month.

In August, account holders will be able to access streaming from the V Festival and watch the final episode of Lee Kern’s Celebrity Bedlam a week ahead of transmission.

Multiplatform content is also part of the push. The Million Pound Drop Live will return in September, and viewers playing along at home will be able to use their accounts to check their progress on an online leaderboard.

To celebrate reaching 5 million account holders, C4 will also offer one registered viewer the chance to schedule the peak of repeats channel 4Seven for one day.

The rapid growth in registrations has also allowed C4 to better understand who is watching, what they’re watching and how they’re behaving, Whitehead added.

Targeted emails promoting 4oD and linear content are generating 300,000 VoD views a month, and C4 is beginning to divide its online audience into categories, such as ‘loyals’, who visit every month.

This group spend more than an hour with C4.com on each visit, which equates to more than seven hours each month – greater than the average time with YouTube, Whitehead said.

Another group are ‘occasionals’. They visit the site less frequently, but because they are registered, C4 is able to tailor and personalise their experience.

The broadcaster is still finalising how many categories it will divide viewers into.

The viewer data is also ushering in innovation around advertising. C4 has been in discussions with major UK agencies and advertisers about its plans and now has 12-15 trials in place to test new methods of trading.

The ambition is to launch a model by 2013.

C4 provided limited details, but it has worked with retail loyalty scheme Nectar to examine the shopping behaviour of high-value audiences.

Whitehead said the trial demonstrated advertising on 4oD delivered an uplift of nearly 10% and a 2:1 return on investment.

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