Channel 4 Annual Report 2020: Record financial surplus and significant digital growth – Channel 4 strongly positioned to deliver future impact for UK

Category: News Release
  • Strong progress against Future4 digital transformation strategy: streaming growth of +26% in 2020 and up >30% over 2021 YTD; digital revenue growth of +11%
  • Emerging strongly from impact of pandemic: corporation revenue forecast to exceed £1bn for first time, in 2021
  • Creative success: linear viewing and streaming up significantly, and strong financial position enabling £40m boost to content budget across 2021 and 2022
  • Ahead of target on 4AlltheUK strategy: set to hit 50% spend commitment in Nations & Regions two years early and new National HQ in Leeds Majestic opening officially on September 6th  

Channel 4 today launched its 2020 Annual Report and gave an interim update on the Future4 transformation strategy, from the organisation’s new National HQ in the Majestic in Leeds.

The 2020 Annual Report shows that, despite the background of uncertainty and volatility resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, Channel 4 delivered a record financial surplus of £74m at year-end – following growth in All 4 streaming views, linear viewing and digital revenues and a strong recovery in the TV advertising market.

Lockdown creative hits included Grayson’s Art Club, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back and Jamie Oliver’s Keep Cooking and Carry On, whilst there was distinctive and challenging content ranging from the BAFTA-award winning The School That Tried to End Racism to Barrymore: The Body In the Pool and Murder in the Car Park.  

Channel 4 worked closely with partners in the production sector to keep making many of its biggest audience favourites, including The Great British Bake Off, Gogglebox, Taskmaster and The Last Leg.

By investing in All 4 and prioritising digital growth Channel 4 delivered streaming growth of +26% in 2020 to hit more than 1.25 billion views whilst linear share grew by +3% on our main channel, and +7% for young people.  

Digital advertising revenues increased by 11% in 2020, despite the negative economic effects of Covid-19. In 2020, digital advertising made up 17% of Channel 4’s total revenues, up from 15% in 2019.

Over the first half of 2021, there has been continued growth in streaming and linear viewing share and, with a positive forward outlook on the advertising market, Channel 4 expects to see further growth in its digital revenues, with total corporation revenue expected to exceed £1bn in 2021 for the first time ever.  As a result, Channel 4 will increase its planned content spend for 2021 and 2022 by an extra £40m.

The record breaking streaming and linear success so far this year has been driven by a combination of established Channel 4 favourites and new titles performing well on All 4 and linear alike including Russel T Davies’s It’s A Sin, Gogglebox, Married at First Sight Australia and Caroline Flack: Her Life & Death.

All 4 views are currently up more than 30% YTD and portfolio share +4% while linear share too has continued to grow, currently up +5% for all individuals for the main channel - the best start to the year since 2002.

Channel 4 also updated on the progress of its 4AlltheUK strategy.  It confirmed that it will officially open its National HQ in its permanent home in the Majestic in Leeds on September 6th and is set to be well ahead of its target of 300 roles based in the Nations & Regions by the end of 2021.   It also confirmed that it is on track to spend 50% of its original UK content spend with producers in the Nations & Regions in 2021, two years ahead of the original 2023 target.

Announcing the results, Channel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon underlined the vital role Channel 4 plays in fuelling the UK’s creative economy and delivering impact for audiences, particularly young people:

“Channel 4 is a uniquely British idea.  We were created as a partner for others – taking money invested by advertisers and ploughing it into new ideas, new talent and social good for the benefit of our owners, the British people.

“As our results show, we are in excellent health.  Our viewing share and streaming is up significantly, we have grown our digital revenues ahead of the market, and with a record financial surplus and a clear digital transformation strategy we are well positioned to continue delivering impact for UK audiences, particularly younger viewers, well into the future.  

“We are successfully evolving our model for a new era where we are not just fuelling the engine of our world leading production sector but helping spread its impact outside of London and into different parts of the UK.   As we emerge from the impact of one of the worst crises of our lifetime – I believe we are stronger and more able to deliver our purpose than ever.”

Channel 4 Chair, Charles Gurassa also underlined the health of the organisation, adding:

“Against the background of unprecedented uncertainty and the volatility resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Channel 4 has delivered a record financial surplus together with increasing audiences and share and impressive growth in its on-demand digital audiences. Importantly, the year showed Channel 4 at its best as we entertained, comforted and informed millions across the UK throughout this unprecedented crisis.

“In a vitally important year for the future of public service broadcasting as both Government and Ofcom undertake reviews of the sector, these results underline the strength, popularity and sustainability of Channel 4 and the important cultural, social and economic impact that the organisation delivers for all the UK.”

The full 2020 Annual Report is available to read at