Market Insight

Channel 4 updates UK online video service and partners with O2

April 10, 2015

Abel Nevarez Abel Nevarez Research Analyst II, Mobile and Telecoms

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UK broadcaster Channel 4 has launched All 4, its new online video service that replaces 4oD. The broadcaster has also partnered with mobile network operator O2 to provide exclusive early access to select programming to O2 subscribers.

The new service will provide cross-device access to Channel 4’s linear channels, digital content and other online services, in addition to mobile live streaming.

As part of the new overhauled service, O2 customers will be offered 48 hour early access to ten popular Channel 4 series, including Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and Made in Chelsea, among others. The offer will be available to customers who sign up to O2’s Priority loyalty program. Channel 4 will also require users to register to watch all long-form content.

All 4 is available from March 30th on PCs, iPhones and iPads at launch, followed by other platforms, including Android, later in the year. 

Our Analysis

The UK is a very strong market for catch-up and on-demand services. BBC, Sky, ITV, and Channel 5 all offer on-demand and catch-up services.

Addition of live content is the biggest development

Adding live access to linear channels is the biggest change from the mobile 4oD service which was focused on catch-up on-demand and catalogue content. Although linear viewing is still a small aspect of broadcaster’s catch-up service it still accounted for 9% of the BBC iPlayer’s total video requests in January 2015. During key sporting events this can rise, however, reaching 15% in July 2014 during the 2014 Football World Cup. IHS expects that Channel 4 would have a slightly lower share of live video requests due to live streams being available through pay TV service’s TV Everywhere propositions (Sky Go and Virgin’s TV Anywhere) in the UK, something that the BBC has to date resisted.

Channel 4’s new service is designed to unify both long-form content with short video, interactive games and social media feeds. The new service will also feature exclusive video shorts, which Channel 4’s director of strategy and technology has noted that the addition of short form videos has led to increased viewership among users.

O2’s content offer had lagged behind rival Vodafone

O2’s partnership with Channel 4 will be attractive to some users wishing to watch Channel 4 programming ahead of regular viewers but simply providing 48 hours early access is a rather limited offer and on its own is not enough to attract or retain new customers. The deal does fit well with O2 UK’s broader Priority strategy which provides a broad range of deals including cinema discounts, food and retail promotions. O2’s content offers have so far been limited. O2 launched its 4G network in August 2013 and initially bundled its O2 Tracks music service and its Priority Sports offer into its 4G tariff plans to attract new users to its faster 4G network, but lacked a true mobile video proposition to sell users on the benefits of 4G. Competing operators Vodafone and EE offer more compelling content packages by bundling access to premium services; Vodafone with Spotify, Sky Sports, and Netflix and EE with EE Film and EE Music with Deezer.   


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