Channel 4 to become streaming service in next few years, will axe music channels first

 Derry Girls.
Derry Girls.

Channel 4 has been home to some of the best British shows of all time. The likes of Derry Girls, Peep Show, The Inbetweeners and Countdown all originated on the network that dares to do things a little bit differently (we're looking at you Naked Attraction). It seems however that Channel 4's desire to keep moving forward might be its end, at least on terrestrial television.

That's because as outlined in its newly announced "Fast Forward" strategy for the next five years, the broadcaster is aiming to "divest legacy operations to support digital priorities". In English, that means it's looking to focus more on a digital-first streaming strategy.

According to the latest report, 27% of its revenue came from digital streams last year (compared to around 10% for rival UK broadcasters) and the channel hopes to see that increase again - to 30% - in 2024.

But how will this affect those of us actually watching Channel 4 content? Well, expect to see a greater focus on My4, which already has an impressive free library of content available to stream and a "Ruthless focus on cut-through with fewer, stronger new titles." Channel 4 also aims to double the number of the paid ad-free tier of its on-demand service by 2030.

Taskmaster
Taskmaster

Unfortunately, to facilitate this change of strategy, it does look like there will be layoffs and restructuring. According to the plan, there will be an 18% reduction in headcount and proposed closures of channels that "no longer deliver revenues or public value at scale, including the Box channels in 2024 and others at the right time."

That's a big shame for music fans. The Box channels include 4Music, The Box, Kiss, Magic and Kerrang which cover a wide range of musical tastes.

Personally, I think this is a mixed bag of news, but hopefully, it leads to more quality content. Certainly, it's hard to argue with the track record of Channel 4 and Film4 when it comes to its best output with two of this year's Best Picture Oscar nominees Poor Things and Zone of Interest having Fim4 involvement.