Efforts to reach audiences on new platforms are working, signalling good news for S4C and the Welsh language, says Huw Jones, S4C Authority Chairman as the channel's 2016/17 Annual Report is published.
The report, published today (Tuesday 18 July), shows that the increase in the use of S4C's online services across the UK has continued again during 2016/17, however with new patterns developing as S4C offers programmes and content on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as on viewing platforms such as s4c.cymru and BBC iPlayer. Over 18 million viewing sessions of S4C content were made on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and at the same time, the viewing of television has remained stable year on year, but with an increase in the number of Welsh speaking viewersꜞ.
"It was heartening to see an increase in the number of viewers tuning in every week in Wales and in the numbers of Welsh speakers doing so in particular.
"Along with that, the striking increase in the use of S4C content on platforms such as Facebook is an indication of the efforts by S4C, working with partners in the independent sector, to take advantage of these new opportunities," says Huw Jones, S4C Authority Chairman, in analysis of a year which included several highlights, and has won appreciation from viewers as having strengths above other channels when reflecting Wales and Welsh people.
Broadcasting live coverage of Wales' Euro 2016 matches was a significant event, and a source of great pride and euphoria. Whilst the nation was united in a very different way in remembrance of the Aberfan disaster 50 years on, with S4C commissioning a new choral piece Cantata Memoria as a lasting tribute to the community.
Both these significant events, along with other highlights, attracted viewers on linear television, people also connected with the content using alternative methods. The video message by Wales's football squad sending "Diolch" to the supporters was viewed 181,646 times on Facebook, and an excerpt of the choral work Cantata Memoria was also among the top 20 viewing sessionsꜞꜞ on social media.
"Our activities on social media have enabled audiences to engage with our content in increasing numbers. When a video is played almost 200,000 times online, as was the case with our film of the Wales football squad saying "Diolch", then we must be striking the right chord," says Ian Jones, S4C Chief Executive, who considers the commission of Cantata Memoria in memory of Aberfan as the most significant event during his time with the channel.
"It was an honour to commission and broadcast the exceptional work of Sir Karl Jenkins and Mererid Hopwood, Cantata Memoria – a particularly moving occasion. Being part of the event will stay with me forever," says Ian Jones, who will be leaving his role at the end of September.
Looking to the future, Huw Jones emphasised that "the Welsh language must be seen and used on the most current mass media if it is to thrive" and that S4C plays a key role in this, as well as continuing to provide "a rich, traditional television service".
As the channel awaits the UK Government's announcement regarding the pending Independent Review of S4C, Chairman Huw Jones sees the review as an opportunity to define the S4C service in terms of providing content on a range of platforms and establishing a funding structure in the long term.
"One of our primary hopes is that, following this review, there will be an agreement as to the process Government will follow in deciding on the overall sum which represents sufficient funding for S4C. There is emphasis also on the need to define the S4C service in terms of providing content on a range of platforms in whatever form is appropriate, whilst at the same time continuing to provide a traditional television service. The creative Welsh language content funded through S4C must be made available for use by the public as widely as modern technology permits and we look forward to seeing further strides in this field in the coming years," concludes Huw Jones, S4C Authority Chairman.
Notes to Editors
S4C has presented the 2016/17 Annual Report to the UK Parliament in Westminster and to the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff.
ꜞ Increase of 7% in the number of Welsh speakers in Wales who watched S4C on average each week. (Page 66)
ꜞꜞ Cyngerdd Aberfan: Promo "Marwnad y Cwm" – 50,810 of viewing sessions. (Page 69)