- Viewing of S4C at its highest in nine years
More people across the UK watched S4C on TV and online last year than at any time since 2006 according to the channels 2015/16 Annual Report which is published today, Wednesday 13 July.
The report shows that:
• 629,000 people across the UK watched S4C on television each week in 2015/16 – the highest number in 9 years. (2014/15: 605,000)
• There was a 46% increase in online viewing sessions (since 2014/15; with 14,000 Welsh speaking viewers in Wales only watching online.)
• Viewing among Welsh speakers in Wales on TV and online remains stable, with 175,000 watching the service each week.
• There was a reduction on 5% in TV viewers in Wales, which is less than the average 8% reduction experienced by public service broadcasters in Wales.
• There was an increase of 244% in the engagement with S4C through Facebook.
This year's report is published at an important and exciting time for S4C as the discussions begin about the channel's future. In 2017, the UK Government will hold an Independent Review about the future needs of the service, which will take in to consideration matters relating to remit, funding arrangements and the structure of S4C.
Understanding the audience is an important part of this. The figures in the Annual Report suggest that the tendency to search for content on digital platforms is increasing at a higher rate than before.
This Report includes the first full year since S4C was added as a channel on BBC iPlayer in December 2014, and its impact is clear to see. Viewing sessions for S4C content on iPlayer is almost 200% higher than the previous year – with viewing sessions on the S4C website remaining consistent year on year.
Huw Jones, S4C Authority Chairman, says; "The report demonstrates the extent to which access to new platforms is increasing the ability of the public to access Welsh language programmes, irrespective of where they live or may be staying. Lives are enriched by such a removal of technical boundaries. S4C must position itself at the heart of such technical developments – and note carefully those programme strands and other kinds of content which are sought out on those platforms and which thus achieve longevity and deliver value in ways previously unthought of.
"During the year, S4C received warm expressions of support from Government ministers and MPs and we look forward now to the review to be held in 2017.
"Our ambition is to be able to deliver a service and provide content which reflects the diversity of life in Wales, which competes with the best, and can project an image of Wales internationally. Our hope is that the Review will consider carefully the kind of modern media service which Welsh-speakers are likely to need during the next 10 years and how S4C can provide and fund that service on a secure basis."
Ian Jones, S4C Chief Executive says; "More people are using S4C services, with the number of people who tuned in to S4C on television across the UK in a week at its highest for 9 years. More people are watching us on television across the UK, and online in Wales and beyond and this is very encouraging for S4C and the Welsh language.
"But in Wales we have learnt that the trend continued for a reduction in viewing of public service channels on television in Wales, with an 8% drop on average. S4C has seen a reduction of 5%, but what we also see is that there are 14,000 unique online viewers in Wales – viewers who only watch our content online. Habits are changing and people are looking for content in different ways. What this report makes clear is that S4C and the Welsh language needs to take advantage of the opportunities to be seen on these new platforms.
"A range of major challenges face S4C during the next period. We must attract the population's attention within a competitive media landscape, especially mixed language homes; we must reach the under 35's and future audiences by ensuring relevant and easily accessible content; we need to find the new platforms which are popular with the audience, and ensure S4C's place on them. To achieve this, we must ensure sufficient funding for the channel along with its continued independence."