Last week Channel 4 announced it is set to launch its first new channel since ‘More4’ in 2005. This brand new channel, ‘4seven’, will give viewers another opportunity to watch the most ‘talked about’ shows, drawn in from those broadcast on C4, E4 and More4 in the previous seven days.
The leading benefit of this innovative channel to Channel 4 is the opportunity to extend audience coverage for their new content released each week. As people have busier lifestyles and an ever-growing selection of channels and programming to choose from, a large percentage of viewers protest that they miss out on their favourite shows. Channel 4 are employing the new digital world to their advantage, by broadcasting the content that is creating the most noise amongst social media, bloggers, commentators, and fusing this into the look and feel of the channel.
This will assuredly deliver higher audience engagement, but do the ‘noisiest bits’ of TV automatically render to the best bits? We have often seen how social media can lead to the formation of lobby groups, and result in deviation from the expected. For instance X Factor winners were once ‘guaranteed’ the Christmas number one slot, but Joe McElderry was denied this triumph when a social media spectacle pushed ‘Rage Against the Machine’ to the top in his place (not that I was opposed to this). Indeed there is inevitable risk that viewers will respond to 4seven in a similar ‘anti-trend’ manner; collaborating in masses to boycott the system so that the programs broadcast are not actually those deserved of the airtime.
In addition, as a heavy-duty fan of catch-up TV, I question whether there is really a consumer need for this channel, with so many ways to watch repeats already in existence. Not only do we have 4OD and a ‘+1’ network, but with growing popularity of PVR (personal video recorder) services such as Sky+, Freeview+ and Virgin Media TiVo, we have pretty much unlimited scope to record our favourite programming to watch at a later date. But then I don’t think the advantage of this channel lies in the content. In a time when digitisation is rising, by tying in social media, 4seven offers TV a fresh face. TV becomes democratic - empowering the viewer to shape their own supply of entertainment. Even if 4seven doesn’t produce much added value to the C4 network, it is likely to create a much deeper and respected relationship with its audience; or at the very least a talking point.
One final thought – advertising opportunities on 4seven have not yet been defined, but if it chooses to only host ads that are ‘trending’ now, will this open up a whole new TV trading model?
(4seven is expected to release in summer 2012, with the channel set to appear on Sky, Virgin and Freeview)
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pete - 14/03/2012 @ 03:47
Interesting Fran, Channel 4 could do with something new and yes perhaps the concept is not entirely unique but maybe the presentation or 'selling of the idea' will be innovative?