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All 4 and BBC3 to get personal


Online services to offer visitors more relevant, targeted content to keep viewers engaged.

All 4 and BBC3 are to become increasingly targeted as the BBC and Channel 4 attempt to super-serve visitors to their online video services.

Speaking at the Bafta Craft: Short Form debate, held to mark the introduction of a short-form category to the annual programming awards, Channel 4 commissioning editor for All 4 Josh Buckingham and BBC3 executive editor Max Gogarty said relevant, personalised content is vital to ensure viewers remain on their services for longer.

“Linear channels are grown up and speak to a wider audience, but All 4 is more aware of the different niches within younger audiences, which can be served brilliantly online,” said Buckingham.

He added that All 4 often loses viewers at the conclusion of the show that drew them to the service due to a lack of related programming.

“The majority of our content is still catch-up programming from the linear channel,” he said. “There is a large gap between the All 4 grime documentary someone comes to watch and the episode of Location, Location, Location they are offered after. We need to get better at bridging that gap.”

Tactical approach

He pointed to tactical All 4 commissions of Firecracker Films’ The Sex Testers and Plimsoll Productions’ Our First Gay Summer, which followed a sex-related season on E4 this summer.

“Because they were so good and had such catchy titles, the audience thought they had been on E4 and stayed on All 4 to watch,” he said.


The Sex Testers

BBC3’s Gogarty said the recently introduced mandatory iPlayer sign-in is delivering rich data and has kickstarted a personalised programming drive.

“If you visit for an entertainment show, we don’t want to serve you something off-key afterwards,” he said. “However, while personalisation is really important, it isn’t the be-all and end-all. People do still like to be told what we think they should be watching.”

Buckingham also highlighted a renewed push of C4’s gaming-related YouTube channel Mashed, which features a host of short-form animations including The Great Pokescape and Secret History of Sonic & Tails.

Managed by The Connected Set since its launch in 2013, the channel has grown to almost 1 million subscribers and generated 172 million video views. It skews 97% male, with an average age of 19.

Content is sourced from a network of online creators but Buckingham has been considering boosting its budget, following the introduction of some subtle C4 branding. The shift also marks a thawing of relations with YouTube after C4 pulled its catch-up content from the Google-owned platform in 2014.

“We have been looking at how to get our content back in people’s social media timelines and are now in a position to try more things away from All 4,” said Buckingham.

“We are considering doing a couple of commissions and acquisitions for Mashed. It’s a brilliant way of doing something relatively low cost that speaks to that [young, male] audience.”

Gogarty added: “Content discovery is really important – that’s why social media is such a massive driver. You have to be in people’s timelines.”

Both execs are also forging closer ties with their linear commissioning counterparts to help drive their presence on social media.

Gogarty said that a short-form clip supporting BBC1 doc Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum And Dad helped drive 28% of the 16-34 year-old audience that watched the full film, while a Facebook clip of a C4 Unreported World film in which a young girl was taught to sign generated 42 million views for the broadcaster


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