Opportunities for new daytime series in 2014
We have a variety of series delivered and in production for the winter 2013-14. However, slots are very much open from spring onwards, so we are looking for ideas to pilot or commission now.
1. Formats/5pm Shows
This is where the most opportunities lie and we have a number of slots to fill alongside new commissions in the pipeline and returning series (eg. Come Dine With Me, Four in a Bed)
Our strategy is to build on Channel 4's core appeal at 5pm - humour and entertainment, diverse casting and simple formats rooted in reality. We are looking to widen the range of formats and subjects that we tackle while still continuing to appeal to a broad audience.
The Channel's audience at 5pm is diverse - roughly a third of the audience is under 34, a third 34-55, and a third over 55; so skewing slightly younger than other channels, but appealing equally to all ages. There are more women watching than men, but the latter still make up a significant proportion of the audience, so new ideas must appeal equally to men.
Viewers at this time of day are starting to wind down so are looking for entertaining but not frivolous shows. Tone should be humorous, without being mean-spirited, there should be plenty of characters and situations that viewers can related to all building up to a final reveal. Where possible, it's useful if viewers feel they have learnt something or been inspired, without the show being a "how to do it" programme.
We are open minded on subject matter, as long as it appeals to a broad age range: subjects that skew too young or old, or towards one gender aren't going to work. Dating, for instance, is a tricky area, as this tends to focus on one age group; weddings are difficult to make attractive to men (Don't Tell the Bride, does it so well, it's difficult to think of another format men would watch). Similarly, antiques probably wouldn't pull in young viewers. So formats will often work best, if they can get their audience on screen. Also, think about what else has been on C4 or other channels; if a subject has been too well covered earlier in the day then it's probably a non-starter for C4 at 5pm.
Formats need to relate to real life everyday life in some way, with a light TV twist on top. Simplicity is vital, as audiences, while sticking with one channel, tend to dip in and out of shows, so tricky (or artificial) formats are a switch off.
A few don't wants:
Come Dine With Me derivatives; magazine shows; health (done elsewhere in the schedule very successfully); blues and twos based shows (difficult to make shared viewing at this time of day); consumer (done on other channels); travelogues.
Possible subjects that might work:
People changing their lives for the better, either professionally or through looking at their home lives; taking on new businesses, moving to new places.
Family relations and behaviour (but not parenting)
People's passions and hobbies eg. making food, kitchen table industries (but not competitive food in a studio setting)
Lightly formatted looks at life in places that have broad appeal, where the precinct has lots of variety and fun, but believable characters. This is a long-shot, so rather than spending a long time negotiating access, let's talk about whether it would work first.
Are there key moments in people's lives that we don't make the best of on TV at the moment?
Are there new, mainstream trends or behaviours that could inspire ideas?
Have you seen great new formats in other territories that can translate to the UK? (we know all about Storage Wars/Hunters and Shipping Wars, but what's next in this area?)
Don't be restricted to these areas - we are really keen to hear people's passion projects. Ideas that you feel are fresh and unique, and C4 is the only place for them. A lot of the channel's best daytime output has come out of the blue, pitched by producers who passionately believe in their formats.
Shape: Generally half hours. Can be self-contained or stripped weekly. Series need to be produced in volume and be repeatable; not only on the main channel but potentially in different patterns on our sister channels.
Talent: We are already working with key Channel 4 talent, so if a show is built around a particular presenter, it would have to be a big name willing to commit from another channel. New talent can be grown within a strong format, but a show wouldn't be based around them.
2. Brand Funded Shows
We are keen to develop more shows in this area.
Food is likely to be the most fruitful avenue: lightly formatted shows, fronted by emerging presenters, showcasing amazing food, that's sumptuously shot but feels accessible to viewers.
The food shouldn't be too niche - a general audience has to be interested in eating it, so if it is concentrating on food from one country, it has to be food popular in the UK.
These shows are likely to play at lunch-time. Recent commissions in this area include What's Cooking? (in association with Sainsbury's), Eric Lanlard's Baking Mad (with Allinson's), and Hugh's Three Hungry Boys (with British Gas)
There may also be openings for property shows that complement our existing output.
We're open to runs of different lengths, from ten half hours to thirteen week runs of five shows a week.
3. Property etc.
Our current/recent commissions include Four Rooms, Phil Spencer Secret Agent, Sarah Beeny Selling Houses, Building the Dream, A Place in the Sun, and Beat My Build.
With a number of these shows returning, there are limited opportunities in this area and any ideas must be in fresh areas, not covered by our current output, unless the shows come with substantial funding from a brand.
How to Pitch
Send topline ideas to David Sayer or Sagina Shabaya. We are a collaborative team, so there's no point re-pitching the same idea to one or other of us.
In order to be as responsive as we can, Channel 4 now has a direct system for pitching ideas to commissioning editors and we have set ourselves a target to get back to producers within 21 days.