EXCLUSIVE: Channel 4 has made a first foray into the U.S. market with the launch of a duo of FAST channels bringing together some of the network’s top adventure and blue-light shows.
The 4 Adventure and 4 Emergency FAST channels represent a major step for the public commercial broadcaster, which has talked up its strategy to boost digital turnover and find alternative revenue streams for a number of years now.
Launching on Tubi, Plex and Xumo Play later this month, 4 Adventure brings together reality and doc series such as Shipwrecked and The Island with Bear Grylls, while 4 Emergency hosts shows including 24 Hours In A&E and Emergency Helicopter Medics. The channels will also feature shows that didn’t originate on Channel 4 but “fit the editorial curation and Channel 4 tone of voice,” according to a spokeswoman.
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Channel 4 can’t produce its own shows and therefore doesn’t own the rights to them but has struck individual deals with distributors on each show in order to obtain U.S. rights for the FAST channels, the spokeswoman confirmed to Deadline.
More such FAST deals are in the pipeline, according to Alex Wall, the broadcaster’s Head of Streaming and Editorial.
“These channels will introduce U.S. audiences to popular shows that embody our core brand values, bringing Channel 4’s unique tone of voice and our rich British culture to the U.S. FAST market,” she added.
Operating with traditional linear schedules, FAST channels stand for Free Ad-supported Streaming TV and bring together shows from a particular genre or long-running program. They have been key talking points at recent TV confabs as more and more traditional networks and distributors step into the game to monetize content beyond traditional sales.
Channel 4 is aiming to deliver 30% of total revenues from digital advertising and 10% from non-advertising by 2025 as it pivots for the digital age. Another form of revenue will soon present itself in the form of in-house production, which, once up and running, will allow Channel 4 to produce and own the rights to its own shows for the first time in its 40-year history.
Programs boss Ian Katz told last month’s Edinburgh TV Festival that networks focusing on traditional linear performance “risk going the way of Kodak or Blockbuster.”
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