Channel 4 is to launch a new catch-up TV channel with content decided based on how much chatter the programmes generate through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.
The broadcaster's first new service since 2005, viewers will be given the opportunity to catch up on the most popular content they have missed in the past seven days, without having to access online catch-up services.
David Abraham, Chief Executive of Channel 4, made the announcement today at the FT Digital Media Conference.
"With so much choice out there, viewers are increasingly saying they sometimes just miss the best stuff, despite their PVR and VOD," said Abraham. "Scheduled in close harmony with all our other channels, 4seven will be a powerful way of maximising the audience for the many hours of new Channel 4 programming we launch every week, as well as an opportunity to direct viewers back to Channel 4 to watch more."
According to Jane Fletcher, Controller of Press and Publicity at Channel 4, 4Seven is meant to be "a stepping stone between where we are now and people going back on the electronic programme guide (EPG)".
"We have a lot of light viewers who don't really view that much content. They've had the opportunity to view on 4OD but this is about scheduling the most talked about content into a linear schedule. Lots of people miss good content and this is a way to put it all onto a channel where it's easily accessible," she said.
YouView, an internet-connected TV on-demand service, will be released later this year and will be the first service to allow users to view past programmes on the EPG rather than just present and future content.
Channel 4 already has two spin-off channels E4 and More4, the +1 channels and an online catch-up service 4oD, which has content that is also broadcast through Channel 4's official YouTube channel.
Last year, Channel 4 spent millions on a bespoke customer relationship management (CRM) database in order to boost advertising, together with a suite of advertising solutions that place targeted ads on their websites using demographic-based data.
"There are some strong examples coming through, including the half a million people who engaged with Food Hospital online and went on to form a relationship with Channel 4 by registering; and the 12 percent of the TV audience who played along in real time with the Million Pound Drop," said Abraham.
The broadcaster's focus on a "dual-screen environment" has been quite successful, whereby users register on Channel 4's website and login while watching a programme on Channel 4. Over two million users have signed up for this service since it started in mid-2010.
"We haven't quite planned it all out but we're definitely looking into integrating online content such as a live chat or forum to go with programmes that are being broadcast again on 4Seven," said Fletcher.