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Channel 4 the outlier as it outpaces rivals for both linear and streaming audience growth

New data shows Channel 4 is the only UK broadcaster among the legacy Big 6 of C4, BBC, ITV, C5, Sky and UKTV, to grow overall viewing across streaming and linear in 2024.

In addition, across 2024 Channel 4’s streaming audience has grown faster than any of the major streaming-only platforms (Netflix, Amazon, Disney+), with a 32% year on year rise in viewer minutes.

BARB data for January to June reveals the channel is successfully growing its overall audience while migrating viewers to streaming, as it sets out to become the “first public service streamer.”

The figures show Channel 4 streaming has grown by 7.3bn viewer minutes so far in 2024 (up 32% year on year), contributing to a 4billion increase in overall viewing minutes across linear and streaming and a record high of 164 billion viewer minutes. That represents a 2.5% year-on-year increase, while BARB data shows major commercial broadcasters on average posted a 3% year on year drop in overall viewing minutes.

In addition, the proportion of total Channel 4 viewing via streaming continues to rise, up 29% year on year so far across 2024. Some 40% of Channel 4’s 16-34 viewing this year has come via streaming.

Driving the streaming growth are a raft of hits, with eight shows attracting more than three million average views across streaming and linear combined: Gogglebox (4.8m), 24 Hours In Police Custody (4.5m), The Push: Murder On The Cliff (3.5m) and To Catch a Copper (3.2m). Additionally, streaming is fast becoming the go-to for Channel 4 viewers – with more than a dozen hits in 2024 attracting a bigger streaming audience compared with linear, including The Jury: Murder Trial which attracted a consolidated 28-day audience of 2.2m streaming views versus 1.1million linear overnights.

For the month of May, Channel 4’s year-on-year increase in total viewing was 6%. This was fuelled by a 21% year on year rise in streaming minutes viewed– outpacing the 10% year on year rise posted on average across all commercial PSBs.

Contributing to the growth last month was highly anticipated drama The Gathering, with episode one securing a consolidated 28-day audience of 3.2m across all platforms, with 46% of viewing coming from streaming. Reality hit Dance Moms was the third most streamed programme on Channel 4, with 31% of viewing having come from 16-34s.

The data follows March’s record month, Channel 4’s biggest streaming month since BARB started recording streaming data in November 2021. Channel 4’s streaming audience grew 22% year-on-year in April – with a total of 6.5bn viewer minutes.

The release of full-length episodes of Channel 4 programming via YouTube is a further growth area. Across 2024 so far, such content generated 42.1m UK Views, up 276% year on year. This highlights progress made against Channel 4’s Fast Forward strategy by Channel 4’s in-house social unit, 4Studio, which is committed to a doubling of all social views by 2030.

Ian Katz, chief content officer, Channel 4, said: “It’s great to see Channel 4’s long-term strategy of prioritising digital viewing and investing in distinctive, British streaming-first content bearing fruit. This data shows that, even in a challenging market, we can successfully grow our overall audience by attracting new digital natives and migrating existing viewers to digital platforms. At the heart of this is our streaming-first content strategy – a unique blend of distinctive drama such as The Gathering, must watch documentaries like The Push and The Fall plus compulsive reality such as Married At First Sight. Channel 4 pioneered the transition to streaming among commercial broadcasters and these figures show we are accelerating our transition to becoming Britain’s first public service streamer.”

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