Channel 4 offers free online 'catch-up' service

As well as making all commissioned content freely available for seven days after broadcast, Channel 4 is bringing advertising to its 4oD service

Alun Williams
1 Mar 2007

Channel 4 is expanding its online, on-demand 4oD service. As well as making all its commissioned content freely available for seven days after broadcast - to encourage people to sample 4oD - it is also using it as an opportunity to bring advertising to 4oD.

The chance to 'catch-up' on content from the last week is described as a world's first by Channel 4. More significantly, it also marks the introduction of advertising on the service. So-called 'pre-roll packages' will now be played before the content. These will consist of two 30 second adverts, with sponsors also being given an option for a 10-second sponsorship clip. This would immediately precede the programme - a style of snippet already familiar from TV broadcasts.

The 'catch-up' service will begin 26 March and will be available both for streaming and downloading. Note that bought-in US series and other elements of the Channel 4 archive will only be available on a pay-per-view basis (99p for single-episode downloads).

The Chief Executive of Channel 4, Andy Duncan, described the company as a 'global pioneer in video-on-demand' and said it was exploring different business models and 'learning valuable lessons' in how viewers use the service.

'We believe free catch-up will complement our pay content, by attracting more sampling of our service, giving us the opportunity to drive incremental viewing to our paid-for archive,' said the New Business Director at Channel 4, Rod Henwood. 'Our own early evidence is that the appetite for both business models is strong. We are using our early mover advantage in this market to build learning, loyalty and revenues.'

Channel 4 become the first major UK broadcaster to offer its content online simultaneously with its broadcast schedule back in June 2006. It had already launched its video-on-demand service in April of that year, starting with episodes of Lost and Desperate Housewives.

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