Channel 4 reveals results from first of its kind study into TV Branded Entertainment

Category: News Release
  • Branded Entertainment can boost brand perceptions +29% vs. a traditional spot advertisement
  • 44% feel more positive about a brand after seeing it in a programme
  • Six in ten viewers feel positive about Branded Entertainment as an approach to advertising – appealing particularly well to younger audiences
  • Channel 4 announces new partnership with Extra® for branded entertainment series Celebs Go Virtual Dating on E4
  • Age UK and Uber reveal Branded Entertainment results

Channel 4 has unveiled the results from the most comprehensive study into the effectiveness of TV Branded Entertainment - a first of its kind for the UK media industry.

According to the study, Branded Entertainment significantly increased brand engagement and drove positive viewer perceptions - transferring the positive emotions created by an entertaining programme to the brand behind it. This is known as ‘brand rub’ - the idea that the key attributes of the host environment will rub off on the brand.

The study examined a combination of existing academic studies, quantitative and qualitative research into existing Channel 4 Branded Entertainment shows. Extensive analysis of this from behavioural specialists and market research experts at the BVA Group discovered the following:

  • Approval of Branded Entertainment is high: Considering ad funded programming is relatively new, six in ten viewers felt positive about Branded Entertainment as an approach to advertising - considering it the third most preferred method after traditional TV spot adverts and sponsorship. Seven in ten viewers also scored it high on quality, entertainment and originality.  
  • Branded Entertainment particularly appeals to younger audiences: For those more sceptical of advertising, it’s an effective medium for engaging viewers with a ‘softer sell’ than traditional advertising, increasing brand resonance and creating greater engagement with content.
  • Brand should have good fit: 84% highly agreed that the brand should have a logical fit with the programme. Branded entertainment works best when the integration and alignment of brand and content is so seamless that viewers will associate the two with minimal prompting or mention of the brand. A strong fit also boosts programme approval and had a positive impact across all KPIs tested*.
  • Branded Entertainment can boost brand perceptions +29% vs. a traditional spot advertisement: The most significant difference seen between Branded Entertainment and traditional spot advertising was in Brand Perceptions. Using a whole programme, there is space to land a message about a brand, through the host environment and the power of the content.
  • Viewers build positive associations with a brand when they feel it’s committed to supporting programming they enjoy: Whilst 60% find their enjoyment of the programme is unaffected by brand involvement, 29% feel more positive about a show if a brand is involved and only 11% feeling negative. In turn, 44% feel more positive about a brand after seeing it in a programme, with only 4% feeling negative.  

Sophie Lloyd, Branded Entertainment & Creative Leader, Channel 4 said: “We’ve always believed branded entertainment delivers for brands but with this - the first research of its kind- we now have proof. It’s an opportunity for brands to co create quality editorial entertainment and weave their values and messages through storytelling and narratives that viewers want to engage with. This research reflects the commitment from C4 to deliver entertaining and engaging programming, in partnerships with brands and the results from the research will enable us to do this as effectively as possible.”

Extra® chewing gum joins forces with Channel 4 and Lime Pictures for Celebs Go Virtual Dating

Channel 4 and Lime Pictures have partnered with Extra Chewing Gum to create a spin off series of E4’s Celebs Go Dating, it’s been announced today. Celebs Go Virtual Dating will follow celebrities as they navigate dating during lockdown and beyond.

The partnership was brokered by 4Sales, Lime Pictures and MediaCom and will also include bespoke sponsorship idents and in show product placement. Branded social content featuring Celebs Go Virtual Dating talent will also be hosted on E4, Celebs Go Dating and Extra Chewing Gum’s social media platforms via Channel 4’s 4 Studio.

Case study results and endorsements

Age UK saw significant changes in brand perceptions after people watched Old Peoples Home for 4 Year Olds on Channel 4. Being an ‘uplifting brand’ saw a statistically significant +51% increase, whilst being ‘caring and compassionate’ jumped +29% as a result of their partnership with the programme.

Uber also saw huge brand perception shifts through showing the human side of the brand through Where to Britain? The perception that Uber has friendly drivers increased by +95% and having a ‘sense of humour’ saw an increase of +105%.

Harriet Foxwell, head of brand marketing at the British Heart Foundation said: “In partnership with Channel 4 and building from a much-loved programme, the 24 Hours in A&E: Heart Special provided us with a unique and very powerful opportunity to show the importance of our research. It helped to make the link between the work of BHF funded researchers and the treatments which change and saves lives every day. The results speak for themselves. Not only did we raise awareness of the BHF’s lifesaving research but we inspired considerable support too.  The donations we were able to generate surpassed all of our fundraising targets for the partnership and will help us to continue to beat the heartbreak caused by heart and circulatory conditions.”

Other Channel 4 shows developed in partnership with brands include Extreme Everest with Ant Middleton (in partnership with Berocca - a dissolvable flavoured mineral supplement in the form of a tablet), All Star Driving School (auto manufacturer Suzuki), and Britain’s Unsung Heros (in partnership with TSB and produced by ITN Productions for Channel 4.)


Press contact: Kayley Rogers

Notes to Editors

Research methodology

Channel 4 have engaged behavioural specialists and market research experts at the BVA Group to better understand how branded entertainment works. Examining a combination of existing academic studies, quantitative and qualitative research into existing Channel 4 branded entertainment shows.

  1. Desk research on the existing evidence base for the effectiveness of branded entertainment in general and on Channel 4 (conducted by BVA Nudge Unit);
  2. Quantitative research amongst an online sample of 1,600 respondents, exposed to a variety of Channel 4 branded entertainment programs (conducted by BVA BDRC);
  3. Qualitative research amongst 12 Channel 4 viewers in a realistic home environment – combining eye-tracking technology and in-depth interviews (conducted by PRS IN VIVO).

*Branded Entertainment had a positive impact across all KPIs tested:  Branded Entertainment had a positive impact across all the KPIs we tested. With significant shifts for Spontaneous Brand Awareness (+46%), Brand Perceptions (+24%) and Prompted Consideration (+16%).