Channel 4 today announced it has appointed Matt Risley, currently MTV’s Digital Director, to the new role of Head of Digital Content Unit (DCU) to be based at the broadcaster’s National HQ in Leeds, which launches this October. Matt Ford has also been appointed to lead DCU’s commercial strategy


Reporting to Zaid Al-Qassab, Chief Marketing Officer at Channel 4, Risley will lead the DCU’s creative and operational strategy. The unit will be Channel 4’s new in-house digital agency, commissioning and producing digital content for social and digital platforms. 


He will work closely with Channel 4’s new Head of Digital Commissioning (to be appointed), other departments across Channel 4 including marketing, commercial and consumer insight – and with independent producers to support new digital talent and Channel 4’s investment in young-focused content and audiences.


At MTV, Risley heads up editorial, production and social strategy for Viacom’s international digital studio in London, and the creation of youth-focused content across TV, movies, lifestyle, music and entertainment for MTV’s social platforms. Responsible for driving growth and revenues, Risley also oversees the digital production and strategy for MTV’s linear shows and development of online communities. Previously he was MTV’s International Entertainment Editor and before that held online editor and producer roles at Total Film and Sky Atlantic/Sky 1 Online.


Zaid Al-Qassab, Chief Marketing Officer said: “Matt has a proven track record in delivering successful and award-winning social digital content for young audiences and possesses a strong commercial acumen. His outstanding strategic and creative leadership will be critical as we build the DCU into a best-in-class internal digital agency.” 


Matt Risley said: “I’m hugely excited to join Channel 4 at such a transformative time. It’s a brand full of incredible shows and digital properties, and I can’t wait to help build a creative team focused on engaging, entertaining and educating young audiences online.”


He will join Channel 4 in December.


4Sales is also establishing a commercial division within the DCU. 


Matt Ford, former commercial director of Unilad, has been appointed to lead the newly created commercial division within the DCU. His team will work with brands to provide access to Channel 4’s leading creative talent to develop social-first digital content for distribution across key social media channels such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.


As part of the team led by Jonathan Lewis, Head of Digital and Partnership Innovation at Channel 4, as well as with Matt Risley, Ford will be responsible for driving future social-first Branded Entertainment revenues which will directly compete with key players such as Joe Media, Ladbible, VICE and Jungle Creations.


Matt has spent the last four years building Unilad’s commercial business from scratch. In the last six months he worked as a business consultant for Manchester based Social Chain and very recently delivered a strategic project for VICE in the UK.


Jonathan Lewis, Head of Digital and Partnership Innovation said: “Having developed a youth content platform into a multi-million pound commercial business, Matt will be a valuable asset to 4sales’ new DCU division and to all our advertising partners who want to create compelling social-first Branded Entertainment that resonates with young people wherever they are.”


Matt Ford said: “I’m delighted to have joined Channel 4 at such an exciting time. The DCU will be creating content specifically for Channel 4’s social platforms which will mean more original, branded and programme content distributed to a young audience in their stories and news feeds. There is a great opportunity for advertisers to create premium Branded Entertainment that lives on social and I’m looking forward to making some amazing content.”


He joins Channel 4 in September.


This summer, Channel 4 announced the first digital content commission for the DCU will be factual strand 4Real, including more than 100 original factual films targeted at 16-34s.The strand launches late 2019 and will be produced by Barcroft Studios.

Staff Reporter

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