Channel 4 has published its Annual Report 2021 showing corporate revenues topped £1 billion for the first time in its history with a pre-tax surplus of £101m

“2021 was an outstanding year of creative excellence, exceptional digital growth and record-breaking financial performance that saw Channel 4 over-deliver on its remit and successfully continue its transformation into a digital-first PSB,” commented CEO, Alex Mahon. “These results demonstrate that Channel 4’s business model delivers dynamic growth, revenue diversification and long-term sustainability. Financially, Channel 4 is in the most robust health it has ever been and our results have laid the foundations for ongoing investment, financial success and stability.”

In 2021, Channel 4’s corporation revenues grew by 25% year-on-year to £1.2 billion, an increase of 18% on 2019’s pre-pandemic revenues.

A pre-tax surplus of £101 million broke 2020’s previous record figure of £74 million, increasing the organisation’s net cash reserves to £272 million and net assets to £556 million “providing Channel 4 with a platform for future strategic growth and long-term investment.”

Nearly one-fifth (19%) of total corporation revenues came from digital advertising, an increase of +40% year on year. All 4 delivered a record +21% growth in streaming views to more than 1.5bn views in 2021. All 4 delivered 13% of total Channel 4 viewing.

The report shows that Channel 4 spent £671m on content in 2021. This is the broadcaster’s third-highest content spend ever and an increase on 2020 (+29%, 2020: £522m) and pre-pandemic levels.

£492m was spent on originated content in total. 55% of main channel content was made in the Nations and Regions, Channel 4’s highest level ever and achieving its 50% target two years ahead of schedule.

By the end of 2021, Channel 4 had around 400 roles based outside of London, across its bases in Leeds, Glasgow, Bristol and Manchester, and this number “is expected to grow further” in 2022.

In 2022, Channel 4 says it is on track to spend over £700m in content, the highest level in its 40-year history.

Channel 4 also said that its 4Skills Leeds-based training and development programme designed to open up opportunities and address skills gaps across the Nations and Regions, with a particular focus on disadvantaged young people, will help over 15,000 young people every year – an investment worth £5m annually, from 2022.

In terms of diversity targets, the report shows that 18% of its staff was ethnically diverse at the end of 2021, putting it on track to achieve its target of 20% by the end of 2022. The proportion of its ethnically diverse leaders increased from 9% in 2017 to 17% in 2021.

“Channel 4 is a vital national institution, and its remit is deeply embedded in everything we make, every day and on every platform,” continued Mahon. “It is about showcasing things that people might not agree with and that challenge perceptions. It’s about celebrating the rich diversity not only of all our communities across the UK, but also their diversity of thought and opinion.”

Channel 4’s Chair Sir Ian Cheshire concluded: “Our exceptional financial performance demonstrates Channel 4’s long-term sustainability and, through its Future4 strategy, it will play a major and unique role in strengthening and levelling up the creative industries and creating new jobs and opportunities for young people across the UK.”


Jon Creamer

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