Channel 4 Daytime Development April 2015
For the next two to three months, our development is focused mainly on two areas:
1. Shows that play at 5/5.30pm: almost all will be half hours; either self-contained or stripped.
2. Ad funded formats that can be produced either in volume for late morning or for weekend slots.
1. 5.00/5.30pm shows
This is a key slot. The available audience is rising as people come in from work or turn on the TV after a day in the house/with kids.
But it’s also a busy time of day, a portion of viewers will be dipping in and out of shows; so programmes need to be simple to follow, with very easily recognisable format beats.
An entertaining, upbeat, tone is key: viewers are winding down so they don’t want anything too heavy/too consumer based. The C4 audience at this time of day does skew younger than other channels, but not as young as in peak (and there is a lot of shared viewing), so ideas shouldn’t focus on one demographic to the exclusion of others
We’re unlikely to commission subjects that are covered extensively by other channels or C4 earlier in the day (so worth steering away from property for instance; and magazine shows). Also, it’s hard to launch shows in areas that are very well-served in peak: for instance food is hard because viewers are so well served by the likes of Bake Off, Masterchef, The Great British Menu etc. In these kinds of areas, ideas have to be really distinct and offer a final outcome that will match up with viewers’ expectations of the genre.
We’re currently experimenting with a variety of ideas that take us away from our traditional areas, so our next round of development is focusing on evolving our current output, rather than going into radically different areas. We are also open to ideas that revive genres that have been popular in the past, but aren’t currently on air in daytime.
Come Dine With Me, Four in a Bed and Coach Trip have all worked well for us. We would like to supplement these with new ideas that make the most of these very C4 sensibilities – eclectic casts, humour, daily reveals and simple formats that are easy to replicate in volume. The key will be finding new format beats that don’t replicate these show’s peer review formats, in areas that are accessible to a broad demographic.
In the same vein, what worlds can we dip into where we can add a light competitive format to people’s real (possibly professional) lives. We’ve tried Shipping Wars, the world of auction surfers – what other areas of activity can we get into where we can turn people’s professions, passions or pastimes into a daily or weekly competition?
We are also interested in real worlds that show-case a recurring cast’s talents and skills. The things they do will delight and amaze viewers across the spectrum. We’ll be able to lightly format ideas that push them to their limits, but still produce a series of visually amazing or emotionally dramatic reveals.
Alternatively, the recurring characters will be faced with tough situations or demanding customers to tackle. Or the contributors might be from worlds where everything they deal with has an intrinsically interesting story behind it and the decisions they take provide a natural narrative to the show.
Either way, viewers will want to come back every day to see whether the core central cast succeed or fail.
Away from all of this, Channel 4 in the past at 5pm has had success with studio shows. Is there a way of re-visiting this area with some exceptional talent who would naturally draw an audience? (But not as pure chat/one-on-one celebrity interview)
Another potential starting point is people’s taste. People have different ways of doing things (from property to cars; B & Bs to holidays) – the more unusual, outrageous or obscure, the more viewers will talk about them and want to see more. So are there areas that we don’t currently exploit that could be ripe for turning into a format in some way?
We’ve had success with Couples Come Dine With Me: partly through the show examining the fun and tension when couples have to work together in pressure situations. Are there other pressure points in the domestic arena which can be turned into formats? How do you examine domestic relations (not just between partners, but in-laws and across the generations) in a fun way that is also accessible to all viewers?
2. Brand funded shows
We have a partnerships team that is in regular contact with potential brand funders, so we are looking at a small number of ideas for a late morning slot.
However, we are open to more ideas that might be backed by brands. But extra funding is vital: so if you are pitching into this slot, don’t just bring us the idea – we need potential interest from an ad funder as well.