S4C's audience reach increased in Wales and in the UK year-on-year in 2017/2018, with the UK reach at its highest since 2004, its annual report reveals.
The 2017/18 Annual Report published today (Tuesday, 17 July) also shows a significant increase in viewing across all platforms, with the new, on-line short form platform Hansh, aimed mainly at the 18-34 age group, attracting 4.9 million online viewing sessions, contributing to a total of 45 million viewing sessions for all S4C programmes and content on catch-up services S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer and social media.
"On television overall, this has been a good year. Viewing of S4C content has increased substantially, both in Wales, where it was up 5% and across the UK where the increase was 12%," says Huw Jones, S4C Authority Chair. "There was a small decline in viewing by Welsh speakers in Wales but the number is steady across a four-year period and after taking online consumption into account, it is likely that the overall usage of our services by Welsh speakers has actually increased."
Huw Jones says that it is highly encouraging that programmes across all genres on the channel have contributed to the increased total of 690,000 people watching S4C on TV every week and the 7% year-on-year increase in online viewing.
They include exciting new brands such as Cynefin, coverage of Wales' football World Cup qualifiers, the successful relaunch of some of the established series such as Cefn Gwlad and Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol. Drama co-productions with BBC Wales, first broadcast in Welsh on S4C, such as Un Bore Mercher/Keeping Faith and Craith/Hidden have become critically acclaimed UK network hits and drama series such as Bang and Byw Celwydd sold to international markets.
S4C's Chief Executive believes that a more dynamic, engaging programme schedule has led to a 12% increase in reach for one of the channel's key demographics, the 45-64-year-olds.
Chief Executive Owen Evans says, "I'd like to pay tribute to the work that Director of Creative Content Amanda Rees and her team and our myriad of production partners have done in focusing on our programming, trialling new formats and schedules, breathing life into some of our more established programmes with a backdrop of decreasing budgets and rising audience expectations. I have set the goal of ensuring that our focus is on supporting the development of great content, flexible distribution platforms and intuitive marketing as our future."
Both Owen Evans and Huw Jones agree that the increase in online viewing among 18 to 34-year-olds is hugely significant.
Huw Jones says, "A particular cause for celebration of the successful launch of Hansh, our dedicated plan for young people. This has allowed a new style and a new form of engagement to emerge both within TV content and digital only material. Providing attractive material for young Welsh speakers at the age when they are instinctively making decisions regarding their personal language use is critically important in the development of the language.
This service reflects the channel's commitment to developing content for the ever-growing range of digital platforms and the S4C Authority has agreed to allocate £3 million to develop new data and personalisation services to be developed at S4C's new headquarters opening in Carmarthen in the autumn.
S4C's Chief Executive Owen Evans will lead the development of digital services with the aim of supporting "a future as a Public Service Media Provider rather than just a Public Service Provider".
Owen Evans explains, "The £3 million investment in the technologies and content will allow us to deliver a more personalised service for our viewers. This will mean that we can build our relationship with the audience from being one to thousands to a more one-to-one experience.”