Channel 4 posted record full-year results on Friday, with CEO Alex Mahon touting them as evidence that the U.K. broadcaster was in a strong position.
The news no doubt gives the network additional firepower as it fights against the U.K. government’s controversial plan to push for Channel 4’s privatization, of which Mahon, alongside with many others in the British TV industry, have been vocal opponents.
“2021 was an outstanding year of creative excellence, exceptional digital growth and record-breaking financial performance that saw Channel 4 over-deliver on its remit and successfully continue its transformation into a digital-first public service broadcaster (PSB),” said Mahon. “These results demonstrate that Channel 4’s business model delivers dynamic growth, revenue diversification and long-term sustainability. Financially, Channel 4 is in the most robust health it has ever been, and our results have laid the foundations for ongoing investment, financial success and stability.”
In its annual report for 2021, Channel 4 on Friday lauded its “strongest-ever financial performance,” with revenue topping the £1 billion mark for the first time with £1.2 billion ($1.4 billion), up 25 percent over 2020. “This is also a significant increase of 18 percent on 2019’s pre-pandemic revenues,” it said. With “TV advertising continuing to beat expectations in 2021,” digital advertising for the latest year jumped 40 percent to account for 19 percent of total revenue.
Channel 4 also reported a record pre-tax surplus, or profit, of £101 million ($120 million), up 36 percent. That gain came despite Channel 4 spending £671 million on content in 2021, its third-highest content spend ever and a 29 percent increase over 2020.
The broadcaster noted that the “U.K.’s biggest free streaming service, All 4, (delivered a) record-breaking performance with 1.5 billion views” and was “on track to deliver 2 billion by 2025.”
Channel 4 spent £671 million ($794 million) on content in 2021. This is the broadcaster’s third-highest content spend ever and an increase on 2020 (+29%, 2020: £522m) and pre-pandemic levels.
The broadcaster also touted on Friday that it is “representing the whole of the U.K.,” saying: “From award-winning dramas, such as It’s A Sin, through to the ground-breaking The Black to Front Project, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the Leeds-based daytime show Steph’s Packed Lunch, or Nida Manzoor’s We Are Lady Parts, 2021 saw Channel 4 portray a wide range of voices from across the U.K.”
Concluded the TV giant: “To ensure that Channel 4 authentically represents and reflects its audiences in the programs that it commissions, Channel 4 made strong progress on equitable representation in 2021. 18 percent of its staff was ethnically diverse at the end of 2021, putting it on track to achieve its target of 20 percent by the end of 2022. Crucially, Channel 4 saw the proportion of its ethnically diverse leaders increase from 9 percent in 2017 to 17 percent in 2021.”
“Channel 4 is a vital national institution, and its remit is deeply embedded in everything we make, every day and on every platform,” said Mahon. “It is about showcasing things that people might not agree with and that challenge perceptions. It’s about celebrating the rich diversity not only of all our communities across the U.K., but also their diversity of thought and opinion.”