Channel 4 is recognised as one of the UK broadcast industry’s most innovative operators commissioning programmes from more than 300 independent production companies. With the rise of digital television, Channel 4 has introduced a range of additional TV channels including E4, More4 and Film4 and is continually growing its online activities and services such as channel4.com.
The need for differentiation
In recent years Channel 4 has witnessed the tremendous growth of online video as a new means for viewers to consume content. As a result, Internet TV is providing a range of new methods for content providers to attract new audiences and ultimately build out new revenue streams. Channel 4 was quick to recognise the need to deliver a range of innovative new media services to engage with consumers and differentiate itself from its competitors, by promoting its lineup of linear TV channels and encourage adoption of the 4oD service.
Jen Topping, Business Manager, Online Video, Channel 4 New Media, was tasked with the roll out of Channel 4’s new Internet TV platform and to deliver an online portal for channel4.com users to view, interact and discuss short form video for a richer visual experience. The decision to steer away from creating an in-house solution was due to cost, time constraints and maintenance fees, which opened the door for a dedicated Internet TV platform provider to deliver its service.
The Brightcove solution
Based on a formal RFP, Channel 4 selected Brightcove as its provider of choice to provide a short form video platform for all clips and online exclusive material on channel4.com, allowing the broadcaster to incorporate video content across most of its online properties (such as sister site e4.com).
“Brightcove was selected for the key reason that its Internet TV platform came out absolutely and clearly on top of the competition,” said Topping. “Brightcove had a clear idea of a broadcaster’s needs, and also could demonstrate a proven track record with an impressive list of media clients including other broadcasters doing what we were trying to do.”
According to Topping Brightcove offered Channel 4 some essential features that tipped the balance:
- Longevity – With Brightcove continually investing in and upgrading its delivery technology, C4 could be confident that it could grow its Internet TV offerings organically to meet future online audience demands.
- Flexibility – Brightcove has a clear understanding of how media providers need to run their online businesses and as a result has built-in flexibility to its platform solution. Channel 4 could align its product roadmap for clips and online exclusive video material with Brightcove’s to maximise return on investment and introduce new efficiencies through technology integrations.
- Efficiency – Channel 4 was looking to rollout its short form online video content as quickly as possible. Brightcove had the infrastructure, expertise and knowledge to provide the platform much more quickly than an in-house effort could deliver and eliminated the need for a dedicated Channel 4 web development team.
- Controlled monetisation – The platform solution allows insertion and tracking of advertising, as well as geo-blocking on a case by case basis.
“In the last six months, our digital properties have seen a 21% increase in video views, compared with the same six months a year ago when we didn’t have Brightcove,” said Topping.
“Deploying the Brightcove player platform has greatly improved the turnaround times needed to publish media to the internet and as such Channel 4 has seen a much faster throughput of its content. Brightcove’s encoding tools are extremely reliable and the insertion of metadata is a simple and accurate process.”
One of the greatest benefits since launching the player has been the enabled search ability of content. Users can search for videos far more effectively than before and now syndicate them to other sites. This is part of Channel 4’s ongoing plans to grow the brand further and push its content out to new viewers through syndication across social networking sites such as Bebo.
Topping concluded: “Channel 4’s decision to work with Brightcove to deliver its short form Internet TV platform has been proved right. Brightcove is continually improving its service and technology which directly impacts on the quality of content we can deliver to our viewers. Brightcove fits our demand for innovative services and together we are pushing the bounds of short form online video against the competition.”