S4C’s on-demand service, S4C Clic, has succeeded in increasing the number of subscribers from less than 1,000 at the end of 2018/19 to more than 100,000 to the end of March 2020.
As the Annual Report 2019/20 is published, S4C Chief Executive Owen Evans said he is delighted with the progress and investment which has recently taken place with S4C Clic through creating a new function and commissioning content specifically for the service.
“S4C Clic bridges the gap between the linear and the digital,” said Owen Evans. “S4C Clic has seen a number of improvements in stability, presentation and function. Unique digital content has been channelled through it including PRO14 rugby, whilst box sets and other content has been increasingly released on-line only. During the year compulsory registration was introduced, and this is now the main platform for S4C to be able to market directly to our viewers by e-mail and to reflect their specific interests.”
While noting that S4C would continue to develop its digital strategy following Euryn Ogwen Williams’s review of the channel in 2018, Owen Evans said that he was very pleased that S4C had invested in a new team of staff to develop the digital service, and he is also pleased to see an increase in digital use from younger viewers.
“In March 2020 our youth platform Hansh, which provides unique content for 16-34-year-olds, attracted a million views in a month across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The service was launched in June 2017 and has evolved from operating on Facebook and YouTube only to creating content on Instagtram and TikTok as well as creating podcasts.”
The last 12 months has been a comparatively difficult year for all public sector broadcasters as SVoD (Netflix, Amazon, and so on) have grown in terms of investment and audience. Although all other public service broadcasters have seen a reduction in linear broadcasting hours, S4C has seen a seven per cent increase in viewing hours.
“This justifies S4C’s aim to reflect the views of audiences in our content and across our platforms. In our overall strategy we have focused the main channel on developing a comprehensive range of content for our core audience and our occasional viewers as we grow our younger and more diverse audiences through our digital content,” said Owen Evans.
The use of technology was more important than ever before as lockdown came into force.
“During a time of crisis our communication with our audiences increased. In addition to the Viewers’ Hotline service, new ways of engaging were launched as we organised Facebook Live sessions. We broadcast several of the ideas which emerged from these sessions including a Sunday morning service and a variety of box sets. A temporary digital channel was launched for people to express their thanks to the emergency services and key workers, and we offered free advertising space to a number of charities.”
Owen Evans said that the crisis has emphasised the importance of S4C as a national public service broadcaster to Welsh-speaking audiences.
The report also marks the end of Huw Jones’s time as Chairman, Hugh Hesketh Evans’s period as Interim Chairman and the beginning of Rhodri Williams’s term as the present Chairman.
“It has been a challenge to keep the channel going through Lockdown, but I am grateful for the support of my team and staff, an energetic and supportive board and chairman along with the unstinting support of the UK and Welsh Governments, BBC, TAC and the independent production sector.”
The Annual Report 2019/20 is available on S4C’s website.