C4 reveals results of biggest ever TV sponsorship effectiveness study


  • TV viewers trust sponsors as part of viewing experience and are more likely to buy their products
  • Wickes, Domino’s and Lexus reveal sponsorship results
  • Lexus and Domino’s renew Drama on 4 & Hollyoaks sponsorships
  • New guidelines for marketers to ensure absolute efficacy of TV sponsorship

Channel 4 today announces results of the most comprehensive study into the effectiveness of TV sponsorship ever conducted; findings reveal it delivers value across all brand metrics and drives positive viewer perceptions.

At a time when the industry is faced with increasing concerns about brand safety, accountability and transparency on some media platforms, new research has found that TV sponsorship is the perfect environment for brands to align themselves with the positive attributes of the shows that audiences actively seek out.

To gain a holistic overview of TV sponsorship Channel 4 commissioned independent research agency Consumer Insight to aggregate 107 individual Channel 4 sponsorship studies across its flagship programme brands and strands, including 257 waves of research that involved speaking to over 80,000 viewers over the past five years. Extensive analysis of this, combined with innovative research from Differentology discovered the following:

  • Sponsorship is Trusted: 89% saw brands that sponsor TV as more trustworthy than other forms of advertising
  • Sponsorship particularly appeals to young audiences: sponsorship had the highest cut through with two thirds of the notoriously difficult to engage 16-34s
  • Sponsorship is perceived as an intrinsic part of the viewing experience: 79% accepted and expected sponsorship as part of the TV experience and 80% of viewers stated that sponsorship credits act as the cue to their programme viewing
  • Sponsorship confers a premium on the sponsoring brands: 76% of viewers thought that TV sponsorship is a more expensive form of advertising and in turn 91% perceived sponsoring brands to be more premium
  • Sponsorship is seen as the future of advertising: 68% wanted to see more of sponsorship as a form of advertising. This rose to 80% if the viewer was exposed to a product category they were actively in the market for
  • Sponsorship is seen as progressive: 91% believed sponsorship is the future of advertising
  • Sponsorship sells: Amongst those who recalled the sponsorships 54% stated that they were more likely to buy a sponsor’s product

Jonathan Lewis, Head of Digital and Partnership Innovation, Channel 4 said: “As an industry we haven’t talked about sponsorship for a while and it’s clear that recent generations of agency planners and buyers have not been exposed to its true potency. Although we’ve always known what sponsorship delivers for brands we lacked the proof. As the biggest survey of its kind this new research provides that proof. Some of the findings have left us pleasantly surprised, especially the positive perceptions around audience acceptance and relevancy amongst young audiences. At a time when brand safety and the need for accountability are paramount to advertisers we are delighted to see that TV sponsorship provides a reliable, transparent and effective platform for a host of brand and marketing communications challenges.”

Case study results

A selection of brand partnerships results from this extensive study included Domino’s sponsorship of Hollyoaks, Lexus’ sponsorship of the Drama on 4 strand and Wickes’ sponsorship of Channel 4 ‘s biggest programming strand Homes on 4:


Rebecca Rose, Head of Marketing, Domino’s said: “Hollyoaks has offered us a route to our audience at a key time of day and has delivered significant increases in purchase intent and brand perceptions. The sponsorship's contribution to sales was rapid, but more importantly that's been sustained over a three year period. We've just renewed for our fourth year, testament to the fact that we've seen ROI increase by 35% from years one to three as Hollyoaks has an evergreen appeal to a broad audience. Our partnership remains fresh as new viewers find the show and by next year we'll have reached close to 90% of all 16-34s.”


Lisa Fielden, Brand Communications Manager, Lexus said: “Lexus is well established as the official sponsor of Drama on 4 having sponsored the programming strand since 2014. We have just renewed the partnership for a further two years, testament to its effectiveness and long term benefits. We have seen significant improvements in the awareness and consideration for Lexus within the Channel 4 audience.”


Matthew Gaunt, Customer & Communications Director, Wickes said: “Awareness of the Wickes’ brand among viewers significantly increased just three months into its three year sponsorship of Homes on 4. This immediate impact (+14% vs 5% average) was boosted by the brand’s strong alignment with the programming content. Consideration of products featured in the idents grew by over 10% among viewers and greater amongst those looking to undertake relevant DIY jobs by an impressive 11%. Wickes also reported a near 40% increase in measured ROI from the activity versus the same spend in spot TV.

In addition to this Wickes also ran sponsorship activation campaigns across the Easter and August Bank Holidays and we can see that this has contributed to a strong double year on year digit growth ahead of similar periods in the calendar.”

New Executional guidelines:

The research has helped Channel 4 to establish a new set of executional guidelines for clients to ensure the absolute efficacy of TV sponsorship:

  • Advertisers can become concerned that a campaign will ‘wear out’ if it is seen too much. This isn’t the case with sponsorship. ‘Wear out’ drives higher awareness and viewers are more likely to purchase the brand/ product showcased
  • The stronger the brand’s alignment with the content it sponsors the bigger the boost to its metrics, especially purchase intent
  • Strong, clear audio and visual branding makes a sponsorship 2.5 times more memorable to the viewer
  • Viewers prefer the wording “Proudly sponsored by…” to any other alternative as it compliments their expectation that the sponsor is a partner in their viewing experience
  • Four successful ways to align a brand with the content it sponsors include aligning creative execution with content or product with content; aligning with the audience or with the broadcast time


Notes to Editors

Research methodology

Part 1 – Channel 4 commissioned Consumer Insight to aggregate over 250 individual sponsorship effectiveness projects run over the last 5 years. This covered more than 100 different partnerships speaking to over 80,000 people. This was then combined into one overall data set. Data was either stripped straight out of the decks, or was pulled from excel tabs. Work was done to align and normalise different approaches to question text and structure, enabling us to have a super-robust database for rigorous exploration. Once set-up, hypotheses were generated and proven or disproven using the contained data.

Part 2 - Channel 4 commissioned differentology to do

‘Digital chat sessions’. These chat sessions were ‘live’ while content/sponsorship were broadcast, capturing ‘in situ’, and ‘in the moment’ response to sponsorship within the social setting of TV.

An immersive focus group with 14 people exploring relationships with sponsorships.

Bespoke quantitative research explored ‘brand rub’ amongst viewers of specific C4 programmes (TEST) and C4 viewers who didn’t watch specific programme (CONTROL). 2 sponsorship studies were conducted – named A and B, with a total of 1600 participants surveyed.

Related Links


Login to view contacts


Register for Press Access