Our vision is to create a relevant, engaging and constantly evolving S4C in terms of the content we commission and how people access that content.
Our vision is to create a relevant, engaging and constantly evolving S4C in terms of the content we commission and how people access that content.
S4C’s content will be inspiring, heart-warming, compelling, informative and entertaining.
The fact that our content is in Welsh will remain our raison d’être, but commissioning more diverse content for our audiences, both long-form and short-form, available when and where they wish to consume it, will sit firmly at the heart of tomorrow’s S4C.
We have a clear view of the type of service we need to become - moving from the channel’s traditional position as a primarily linear broadcaster, into a provider of many forms of content, across multiple platforms. We need to engage more fully with a younger demographic, while still providing services for our loyal, core viewers. We need to provide a personalised service with a choice of content that reflects individual viewing habits, both in terms of content form and how it is viewed. The need to offer both broadcast and ‘personal-cast’ options is vital for S4C’s future.
To do so, we will need to work closely with all our partners – the BBC, independent producers and ITV Wales - to develop new ways of thinking about our audience’s wishes, while continuing to promote quality and originality of content.
Our ambition is to evolve from being a Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) to a Public Service Media (PSM) provider. This better reflects the way in which other UK PSBs are already operating and would bring S4C into line with UK and international best practice. It will allow us to commission and distribute content on any popular platform – broadcast or online.
S4C content needs to be available where people are watching - on social media platforms, short-form video sites, linear TV, Smart TV, and any other popular platform now and in future. The vision is to become a complete Public Service Media content provider.
As a PSM provider we will build on the strengths of PSB, and maintain those elements, whilst recognising that broadcast is only one method - albeit an enduring one - of reaching audiences and meeting the needs of Welsh language public service content provision in the digital age.
It is no longer sufficient to create great content and then expect your audience to find it by tuning in to the television. While ‘broadcast’ is still important, from our own qualitative research we know that more and more people expect ‘personal-cast’, programming services that meet their own individual needs.
To be truly competitive today, S4C will aim to provide a more personalised viewing experience for some audience segments, curating content in meaningful ways so that people can readily access the most relevant content for them on whichever platforms they choose. Personalisation in turn informs S4C of audience choices and preferences for future content creation and delivery, and drives engagement.
We have made some headway into ensuring we are represented on key broadcast platforms (see S4C Today section) – and in prominent positions - and we have trialled new content on YouTube with Pump. But our overall digital offering does not fully take advantage of the potential of new technologies and the public’s appetite to use those technologies. Welsh language content is not available in the way it should be to meet the needs of today’s audience.
Research shows, that while it is clear that some age groups are currently watching less television in favour of accessing content via other platforms,⁷ there is no doubt that over the next decade at least, the popularity of TV amongst other age groups, as well as TV’s place as the home of family viewing, will remain strong.⁸ PSBs, with their continued substantial investment in mainstream linear programming, will ensure the continuing strategic importance of broadcast television as a primary means by which people access content.
We must therefore continue to invest in our presence on main TV platforms for years to come and continue to provide a competitive and ambitious linear service.
At present, S4C operates a comparatively basic online ‘player’, primarily providing live and catch-up services for our long-form TV content – mainly available for 35 days after initial broadcast.
Our strategic partnership with the BBC has also made it possible for most recent S4C content to be made available on the BBC iPlayer. We want to build on the advantages of this partnership, whilst also using our own player to create a truly personalised service in line with audience expectations. The aim will be for it to offer access to all current and historic content for which the relevant distribution rights are held.
As part of our wider strategic partnership, we have come to an arrangement with the BBC, which means that S4C catch-up content is currently the only non-BBC content to be made available on the BBC iPlayer. This has been a successful venture and has proved to be an important platform for expanding on-line viewing of S4C programmes, within agreed time limits. We look forward to exploring further opportunities for collaboration that benefit our audiences
S4C’s new player will be the driving-force behind all S4C content on digital platforms. It will enable us to send direct and personalised communications to our subscribers with updates and information, as well as offering access to rich content suited to their own individual needs and viewing choices.
It will enable us to automate and streamline our procedures for making outgoing payments to contributors and rights holders based on the numbers of views.
This new player will naturally be available via S4C’s own website, but also via as many other platforms as possible, building on current plans to launch apps on Samsung Smart TV, for example. It will provide S4C with prominence on digital platforms as we aim to make our player available on all the most popular devices. But we will still be looking to ensure that S4C is included on as many third-party content platforms as possible.
The new player’s technical capabilities will drive prominence and engagement with audiences, but we will also aim to revolutionise our online content offering.
In the age when services offered by the likes of Netflix and Apple TV are established in the audiences’ expectations, the aim is to give Welsh audiences a recognised one-stop-shop for all S4C content. We want to allow subscribers access to the broadest possible range of content and enable them to curate their own playlists.
In addition to live streaming of the linear channel, this new service would provide:
We have an ambition to create a standalone children’s online service, modelled on the above, to make Welsh language content more readily available to children who speak or are learning the language. It would have associated apps, allowing children to browse content easily on mobile devices without the risk of stumbling on content which is unsuitable or not age-appropriate.
These developments will require a raft of technical adaptions and upgrades to our current offering, as well as additional resources to digitise, code and curate content, and to secure the appropriate rights for content distribution.
Several established TV providers offer live channels and operate as conduits for access to broadcasters’ on-demand facilities via TV sets. S4C launched on YouView in early 2014. Our aim is to incorporate S4C on further on-demand services where possible, with two platforms – Freeview Play and Freesat Freetime targeted early on.
Traditionally, PSBs have enjoyed prominence on television EPGs (Electronic Programme Guides). This has been extremely valuable in maintaining awareness of S4C’s programme offering in the digital age.
Now, with the rapid rise in take up of Smart TVs and the reduced profile given to the EPG by some platforms, Welsh speakers and other viewers may find it ever more challenging to find Welsh language public service content on digital media platforms if that content is not afforded appropriate prominence.
We have already worked with Amazon Fire and Samsung to get S4C pre-loaded as an integral Smart App, ensuring a degree of prominence when viewers turn on their TV sets.
Our vision is for S4C to be included on all new-build Smart TV sets. But this takes time and investment, both for app development and for ensuring app integration by manufacturers, and is likely to need a strong regulatory steer if it is to happen. We believe it is very important for the PSB prominence principle to be extended to include on-demand services which serve public service providers. It is particularly vital for the availability of Welsh language content as S4C is the only Welsh language PSB available – serving Welsh speakers throughout the UK.
A 2016 Ofcom report⁹ states that for the first time, children aged 5 to 15 now spend more time online than they do watching TV sets, with YouTube being the primary online destination. This was especially true for 12 to 15-year-olds, with 87% watching YouTube. The report also states that while they may be watching less content on TV, this does not mean that children are consuming less content.
The example of this one group demonstrates how important it is for top quality, appealing Welsh language content to be made available on external video platforms.
Our ambition with YouTube is to develop a small portfolio of Welsh language channels, targeted at different age groups and to populate them on a regular basis with compelling short-form content. Much of this will be standalone new content – as we have trialled for Pump – but some will also relate to content on our linear channel and act as tune-in promotion. In a similar way, we need to enhance our original video presence on Facebook, which has become a major video platform as well as a social platform, in order to further engage with those habitually using it – a relatively young demographic. We will also monitor trends as new opportunities and new platforms emerge over time.
Social media in all its forms is a vital component in the success of content today. Audiences, particularly the 16 to 34-year-old age group, are heavily invested in social media and want to share their views, comment on content, make demands of broadcasters and ask questions. Social media chatter can increase ratings, drive re-commissions and make stars of unknown talent – and indeed the social media users themselves.
We re-focused the energies of our engagement team in 2016 and as a result, increased our presence across key social media channels, achieving substantial increases in engagement levels with content.
This was achieved using promotional material and trialling a limited amount of short-form content, but we recognise that we are a long way from using social media at optimum levels. To achieve this and engage fully with audiences who consume more content via social media than any other medium, we must create more short-form content, and we must also be more responsive to our audience via social media and promote greater levels of communication and engagement. This requires additional resource.
The value of new content, accessible across a range of platforms, must be maximized by making sure our audience knows what we have and how it can be accessed. Enhanced social media activity will be key, spreading the word about the varied appeal of S4C’s content on all platforms. It will also enable us to finely target viewers with personalised messages.
However, in line with our vision to target audiences on both TV and online platforms we must also continue to reach out to audiences who engage more regularly with more traditional forms of media.
The Welsh language is rooted in the community and S4C needs to reflect contemporary, community life in Wales. It is important that we find ways to take our service and our content off-line and into the community at appropriate times.
At present, we only have one communities officer for the whole of Wales. To deliver our vision ‘on the ground’ we need to be able to increase our community engagement activities.
Gone are the days when PSBs can be everything to everyone. We must now provide something special for everyone – content that speaks personally to every viewer, whoever they are and however they like to view their Welsh language content.
Content has always sat at the heart of S4C. But our new vision – all driven by the changing needs of our audience – is to commission specifically for audiences according to what they choose to watch and how they choose to watch it.
We aim to create engaging, primetime family viewing experiences on TV, deliver our big ideas cross-platform with real impact, and supply a frequent and consistent stream of fresh stand-out content for online short-form platforms. It is the range of content audiences want, in the language they want. But that audience is also subject to the wider media marketplace, and has high expectations. S4C content must compete in areas where other PSBs are currently able to invest far more in their content.
Across all platforms, we aim to create a focused range of relevant and diverse content that captures and engages, surprises and delights all segments of the audience – on their platform of choice. This will include improving the content we offer to our current faithful viewers, as well as building a long-lasting relationship with those audiences who, according to our research, are currently less likely to see S4C as a regular part of their life e.g. younger people, mixed-language households, 45 to 64-year-olds, as well as lighter Welsh speaking viewers.
TV can in no way be seen as a thing of the past. Length of daily TV viewing in Welsh TV households is 13% higher than the UK average10 and with linear TV viewing expected to account for 75% of all UK viewing, even in 2025,11 television is here to stay. This means that S4C has no choice but to continue to retain a strong focus on creating stand-out content for the TV channel, at the same time as developing new content to be made available on new and emerging platforms.
S4C’s new creative mission is to create conversation, touch the heart and fire the imagination. We have five key themes to enable us to achieve this mission through our content:
S4C’s new three-year content strategy, building on these five themes, has already been presented to the independent production sector.
Our intention is to revitalise the linear channel to become more exciting, bolder, more varied and more competitive with other channels. It needs to play a greater part in our audience’s lives. Interactive services, text voting and programme apps are all examples of activities designed to encourage involvement with linear programming in general – enriching the experience for the audience. But our ambition goes beyond this. Our aim is to create more compelling content that brings people together - both in front of the television and within the community to celebrate contemporary Wales. We want people watching because it is the best content available.
Despite predictions that fragmentation would lead to ‘appointment-to-view’ television becoming a thing of the past, in recent years we have seen a phenomenal rise in so-called ’juggernauts’ driving the mid-week and weekend primetime viewing habits of whole families. These include high budget and high quality programmes such as The Great British Bake Off, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Strictly Come Dancing, Springwatch, Britain’s Got Talent, The Island with Bear Grylls, Celebrity Big Brother and Masterchef.
Even younger people, who spend more time online than in front of the TV, still gather with their families for certain types of heart-warming and exciting ‘appointment-to-view’ entertainment.
We know that we cannot be all things to all people but our linear channel is the home of family viewing in Welsh and therefore we must create more viewing opportunities for families to enjoy as a group. This type of content will be commissioned to provide a full multi-platform experience to the audience. Releasing additional short-form content, we will proactively encourage media-meshing, discussion and sharing via social platforms. As well as working to incorporate S4C content into family life in all its forms, this strategy will build the channel’s relationship with younger viewers.
While S4C is proud of its record in ensuring exceptional value for money, one of our greatest challenges is maintaining an ability to compete with other PSBs who can invest far more in primetime content. S4C’s maximum spend on productions in the main genres doesn’t get close to the level of spend by other PSBs according to latest published tariff lists.
|C4 (2009 tariffs)||245,000||400,000||650,000||1,000,000||175,000||200,000|
|BBC Network (2016 tariffs)||575,000||750,000||825,000||1,000,000||263,000||300,000|
|BBC Nations and Regions* (2016 tariffs)||185,000||220,000||450,000||200,000|
|ITV (2014 tariffs)||575,000||1,000,000||550,00||800,000||225,000||300,000|
|S4C (for 2017)||60,000||100,000||220,00||250,000||48,000||60,000|
*No specific peak tariff range published for BBC Nations and Regions for drama and factual.
But budgets based on current income estimates show our content budget slowly reducing in cash terms, over the next five years. Allowing for inflation, the pressure is even starker:
Simply to continue to commission content at current levels will require additional investment in line with inflation forecasts. Current forecasts are between 3% (RPI) and 2% (CPI) over the next five years.12 Given these projections, incremental annual increases from c. £2m in year one up to c.£9m in year five will be needed to halt the real-terms decline in the content budget over the next five years.
The scale of efficiencies already delivered, together with those identified in the budget, means that our ability to find further savings has been tested to the full.
Welsh-speaking viewers are fully aware of and watch content on other channels. Inevitably, they draw comparisons about production values, frequency and variety. If S4C is to maintain its credibility as a mainstream TV service, we must ensure that our content does not suffer by comparison with the standards of other popular broadcasters.
Almost all of S4C’s original content produced by the sector – more than 1300 hours a year – from drama to children’s programmes, sport, learners and factual programmes – are produced for almost £20m less than the cost of Netflix’s ten-hour series The Crown, (reported to have cost £100m).
The other focus for the channel is to create national moments, highlights in the schedules that draw people together and get people talking – both on social media and in communities across Wales. For these cross-platform projects to be as successful as possible they also need to hold a mirror up to life in Wales and be distinctive - something that only S4C could or would produce.
Visit Wales is focusing on Welsh legends for its marketing activity this year and to coincide with this we’re planning some special programming. We will be creating contemporary content, loosely based on the strong legends heritage within Welsh culture, which will appear on-air, online and be readily shareable across social media. The project will include a search for modern Welsh love stories and legends, music and children’s programming, as well as an irreverent look at ancient tales from a modern perspective.
Working alongside a major study on behavioural change we are researching a high-profile project currently called ‘Flick the Switch’, about people making meaningful changes to their lives. This will be hugely entertaining but it will also have a very strong public service message and we will be taking a great deal of content out into the community – in a fun, engaging and meaningful way.
Both initiatives can be delivered bigger and better according to the level of investment available.
Given our restrictive remit, the importance placed on linear television and our need to constantly commission new content, we have not been in a position to focus on creating compelling, original, short-form content, targeting younger audiences in particular. In line with this vision, our aim is to change this. We aim to provide Welsh language content for audiences who prefer to consume their content in this way, especially 16 to 34-year-olds. This is the group most likely to view content via short-form platforms and social media platforms on mobile devices14 – and there is very little available to them in the Welsh language.15
Broadly, we need to create two main types of short-form content:
We have shown our determination to explore the market for new short-form content, through our ground breaking, Pump pilot, and now producers are working with us to find innovative ways to provide more short-form content, associated with on-screen projects.
One producer currently delivers 30 hours (60 x 30’) of music-themed, linear content aimed at younger audiences for the channel each year. We are now asking them to create a similar number of total hours – but solely with short-form content ready for sharing across social media platforms and then re-packaging into a new-look, weekly late night show for the main channel.
These are small steps in the right direction for S4C. A new remit and additional investment, as outlined in chapter 3 of this document, will enable us to serve audiences on new platforms fully.
S4C has had a long, healthy and fruitful relationship with both the independent production sector in Wales, ITV Cymru and with the BBC, and we want these to continue. However, if we are to deliver our vision effectively and challenge our own creativity, competitiveness and commerciality, we will, by default, be challenging our producer partners in the same way.
A greatly valued portion of S4C’s original programming comes from the BBC’s statutory provision to S4C - at least ten hours of programming per week. This provision has existed since the channel was created in 1982. The rest of S4C’s content is commissioned from the independent sector – and we deal with around 50 individual companies each year. More than 80% of our funding is spent in this successful creative sector, mainly in Wales.
Our way of commissioning will change. We will improve our communications with producers to foster a clear understanding of:
A new holistic approach to commissioning means we are factoring in the short-form content needed to support long-form programming. In this way, producers are aware of our needs and can deliver during the production process. This is more cost-effective than looking to create short-form content after a programme has been delivered.
However, a major step-change is still needed to provide truly original, engaging digital first short-form content, such as themed shorts or series of webisodes. We will support producers to diversify and become leaders in this field and we will explore options to work in partnership with a range of other organisations to reach out and connect with new audiences, supporting and stimulating growth for the digital economy in Wales.
We aim to build on our excellent reputation as an investor in co-production projects which have brought great benefits to the channel, our audience and Wales’ production sector. Our ambition is to be able to target more high potential projects which is why we work in partnership to develop formats and make good creative ideas great. For further detail see ‘A Commercial Strategy to Help Drive the Vision’.
S4C has 35 years of content in its archive. Properly presented, in an appropriate context, it can still delight, inform and entertain. We will be looking to digitise as much of this back catalogue as possible and, where relevant, re-purpose for use – into short-form content for example – or look at ways in which it can be sensibly monetised. Some programming is constrained by rights issues but we will engage with various rights holders in the hope of reaching a mutually beneficial resolution.
S4C and our partners in the production sector have a well-established history of discovering great talent and nurturing their careers on-screen and behind the camera. Successful actors, presenters and directors from the S4C talent pool include Alex Jones (The One Show), Matthew Rhys (The Americans, Brothers and Sisters), Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man, Notting Hill, Elementary), Huw Edwards (BBC News), Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones, Our Girl), Ioan Gruffydd (Titanic, 101 Dalmatians, Fantastic Four), Euros Lyn (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Broadchurch, Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax). Our new content strategy focusses on increasing the number of opportunities to find a diverse range of new talent.
The production of short-form content provides new opportunities to trial different types of talent, with different skills, approaches and personal styles. An increase in views, likes, shares and conversations on sites such as YouTube and social media platforms as well as S4C’s efforts to encourage user-generated content in some circumstances will be harnessed to highlight talented individuals that we would otherwise not find.
There is no doubt that S4C’s public service content is widely valued and appreciated by our audience.16 Welsh speakers in particular see S4C as the channel that most effectively contributes to the culture of Wales, is best at reflecting modern Welsh life, and that reflects the diversity of people living in Wales in terms of age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity in its programmes better than any other channel.17
The research also indicates that the audience particularly appreciates that S4C portrays the whole of Wales.
When asked to choose channels that “show programmes about my area of Wales”, S4C is selected by a much higher percentage (78%) than the closest other channel (BBC One Wales at 22%). In all three regions all scores for S4C were at 70% or higher:
Mid & West Wales: 81%
South Wales: 70%
But as the only Welsh language public service broadcaster and audio-visual content provider, we are committed to making a wider public service contribution to Wales and the Welsh language.
In the 35 years since the channel was created, S4C has:
The language today is thriving and is used by nearly three quarters of a million people in Wales and throughout the UK to differing extents in their lives – at home, school, work and leisure.
The ability to speak Welsh is particularly high amongst school-age children (5 to 15 yearsold) - 40% according to the last census.18 These figures have more than doubled over the past 30 years. The Welsh Government has made supporting language growth a major focus, setting ambitious targets for enabling the growth of the number of Welsh speakers to one million by 2050.
The conditions are right for an increase in the Welsh speaking population within Wales as the 5-15 year olds become adults.
Support for the language among the Welsh population remains high. A 2016 survey states that 84% of fluent Welsh speakers think more should be done to preserve Welsh as a living language.19 This is also endorsed by 71% of non-fluent Welsh language speakers and 42% of non-Welsh speakers.
To remain a vibrant and relevant language, however, now and in the future, one of the priorities must be for the language to claim its place in the digital world alongside English and other languages.
While some important development is going on, and breaking new ground, other potential sources of digital content in Welsh are scarce. So delivering S4C’s vision for the future will have a direct impact on the maintenance of the cultural ecosystem necessary for the language to continue to flourish.
S4C has been a long-time supporter and implementer of diversity policy. Indeed, our very existence is an exercise in diversity. In addition to our contribution to linguistic diversity, in recent years we have won UKwide industry awards for the ways in which we portray under-represented groups on-screen.
We fully support the UK Government’s ambition for greater diversity in television – both on-screen and off-screen and therefore recognise that we could and will do more in this area. We‘re exploring the feasibility of joining Diamond, an industry-wide diversity monitoring project developed by the Creative Diversity Network. This would provide us with consistent and comprehensive monitoring and reporting of diversity in the future, and allow us to develop performance targets to drive improvement in this area.
Fy Chwaer a Fi
(My Sister and Me – Bulb Films part of Boom Pictures Cymru)
Pobol y Cwm
(BBC Cymru Wales)
Since our inception, S4C has been committed to ensuring that as wide an audience as possible can share the experiences we provide. We offer several services, at different levels, and are constantly working to improve these in order to meet evolving audience requirements:
S4C believes everyone, irrespective of age, background, location, disability and language, should be able to access our services. As technology improves and offers more affordable solutions, S4C will explore the available options with a view to offering further enhancements which improve experiences for those who use access services.
Thanks to S4C, working in television, has been a realistic and achievable career path for young people in Wales. Indeed, thousands of careers in television in Wales have been inspired and made possible because of S4C’s existence and our investment in the independent production sector.
Many have gone on to creative, technical and professional careers elsewhere but many have chosen to remain in their own communities and run sustainable businesses within them.
The ambitions set out in this document for a more dynamic and digitally savvy S4C will lead to the further creation of diverse job opportunities in the independent production sector. Many will require cutting-edge digital skills, a key enabler for social mobility and a sector identified as a priority for growth by both UK and Welsh Government.
Together, education and Welsh language broadcasting have been instrumental in stabilising the Welsh language since the 1980s. 94% of Welsh speaking viewers (and 91% of non-Welsh speakers) feel that S4C “keeps the Welsh language alive”.20
S4C’s service has always encouraged language transfer and helped provide resources for learning in and through the Welsh language. Currently S4C offers some learning content on-air and on-line. We are proactive in seeking to support use of our content within the education system.
We have made more than 100 hours of programming available for students and lecturers supported by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol; we have created early learning book-based resources and are in dialogue with Hwb, the Welsh Government-supported digital learning portal.
To date our activity has been piecemeal. In the future, we aim to take a more holistic and deliberate approach.
We see S4C as a lifelong learning partner for all new and existing Welsh speakers.
Our aim will be to:
We know our existing content is valuable to both educators and students. We receive regular requests for materials that cover Welsh history and geography or, for example, Shakespearean dramas that have been produced in the Welsh language. Our goal is to ensure that all our best educational content is available in one rich and dynamic online platform.
As with our mainstream content plans, the ambition is to make this educational content available in the right format - whether long or short-form - easily searchable and as accessible as possible across various devices.
We want to be a reliable, relevant and userfriendly source of media content that supports and enriches the learning experience.
To deliver on our ambitions, we need to make life-long learning a more entrenched and focused part of our business. Additional resource would allow us to:
S4C works hard to ensure the creative economy in Wales thrives. 81% of our funding flows directly into the production sector – and substantial numbers of jobs created within that sector are directly linked to our spending on new content.
More than 50 independent companies produce programmes for S4C, as well as an extensive supply chain of microbusinesses and freelancers across Wales. Welsh production companies have become significant players in the UK market.
The skills that have been nurtured when creating programmes for S4C are now the foundation of an industry that provides programmes to other networks in Britain, as well as broadcasters overseas.
Independent research shows that during 2014/15, every pound invested by S4C in the creative industries in Wales was worth £2.09 to the economy.21 The combined impact of filming the first series of Y Gwyll/Hinterland in Ceredigion alone was over £1m22 and S4C’s total economic impact across the UK in 2014/15 was £170m.23
Our content and talent is flying the flag for Welsh talent overseas and driving inward investment. Series one and two of Y Gwyll/ Hinterland (produced by Fiction Factory) have been acquired by broadcasters in over 20 territories worldwide and challenge show format Fferm Ffactor (Farm Factor) developed for S4C by Cwmni Da, has been sold to countries including China and France.
Over the next five years, as S4C rolls out the vision outlined in this document, our impact will spread beyond the creative economy to the rapidly developing digital economy - a priority growth area for both UK and Welsh Governments. By placing digital media content at the core of our strategy and through supporting the creation of a new creative and digital cluster in west Wales, S4C will play its part in enabling digital businesses to grow. Support for S4C creates more jobs in the private sector and helps to spread economic growth and prosperity to every corner of the country.
In the next section, we outline how we want to use our commercial subsidiary to give further support to our public service ambitions and to create more jobs and stimulate growth in the Welsh economy.
S4C and our commercial arm, S4C Masnachol/Commercial, have a proven track record of working successfully with commercial partners across the globe. S4C Commercial makes a variety of investments from its own commercial funds with the aim of returning sustainable dividends to S4C’s public service.
Since 2009, S4C Commercial has paid dividends averaging almost £2m per year into the public service fund.
Our aim is to build on current achievements, and deliver even more value for the public service. We plan to achieve this by successfully engaging in the following areas of commercial activity:
Extending the reach of on-air brands - Taking selected on-air brands and investigating ways in which further value can be extracted via S4C Commercial projects; seeing if they can live off-air in a commercial setting, while promoting face-to-face interactions and high-quality S4C brand experiences in the community. For example:
We are currently considering how to further embed the Cyw brand within the early years’ curriculum in a way that supports language transfer, as well as generating income to invest back in to our services.
ITV is currently enjoying great success with several its off-air brand extension activities. These include Emmerdale visitor experiences, theatrical versions of Saturday Night Takeaway and a regional cookery tour by Gino D’Acampo – Gino’s Italian Escape.
Selling advertising, sponsorship and teleshopping – an income stream which has considerably reduced since Digital Switchover and the loss of C4 programmes, but which is still important. Sky is S4C’s agent and local advertisers are incentivised to advertise in Welsh, by the availability of a subsidy for production costs. This increases the number of Welsh companies advertising on S4C, in a market which tends to be heavily influenced by factors in London.
Our aim is to continue to explore ways of generating further advertising and sponsorship income, particularly from online and digital content delivery. Realising the aims set out in this vision would lay the groundwork to enable S4C to put further advertising offers in place which meet our needs and those of our advertisers.
Revenue returns from international programme sales – While this is a field in which S4C has traditionally achieved success, the statutory framework in more recent years has meant that exploitation rights are now held by producers rather than S4C. Today, we work with partners to invest in suitable co-production projects. This is our primary template for future exploitation of the commercial value of selected programmes. We have an ongoing relationship with Sony, designed to inspire producers to create formats for international distribution.
Significantly, as with any commercial activities, these are not just an investment in our own future; they are also potentially an investment in the economy. The creation of formats for Sony to distribute, will deliver additional revenue generating opportunities for the Welsh production sector.
Equity investments in relevant projects - Investing in business or co-production opportunities that can both help deliver our vision, and deliver financial returns. These tend to be longer-term investments and we aim to maintain a portfolio approach to this kind of investment. Recent examples of this kind of activity include:
Working collaboratively with others – developing partnerships with other interested parties or those with expertise and experience which can deliver results for S4C:
When considering commercial investments, we expect the business in question to demonstrate a positive NPV (Net Present Value) of cash-flow over three to five years using a discount rate of 15%. The return to S4C Commercial is likely to be through a combination of capital growth and dividends, although it is not possible to accurately forecast when returns will be delivered to S4C Commercial as often no exit is forecast for five years or more.
The current statutory provisions relating to S4C’s ability to invest in new commercial activities can be cumbersome and disproportionate, limiting S4C’s ability to generate our own new commercial revenue streams.
If we wish to engage in a new type of commercial activity with our own commercial money, which is not closely aligned with S4C’s core service, we have to seek the Secretary of State’s approval to lay a piece of legislation before Parliament and for Parliament to consider whether S4C should be allowed to enter into a new commercial project.
S4C believes that its commercial powers could be set out so as to allow S4C to invest and participate in a wider range of commercial projects without having to seek parliamentary approval.
S4C proposes that our commercial powers be defined more broadly, in line with Channel 4’s, by way for example of a general enabling order that could allow us to use our commercial funds to facilitate a greater number of commercial projects in Wales and to try and generate further commercial income. Such an order could be made by the Secretary of State by way of a Negative Resolution Order.24
From 1996 to 2003 the statutory provisions governing S4C and Channel 4’s commercial activities were broadly similar and enabled S4C to invest in a wide range of commercial activities in order to create additional income and capital value for S4C – which in turn would be invested back in to the channel’s public services.
However since 2003, S4C’s commercial powers and freedoms have been significantly curtailed by a framework that requires the Secretary of State and Parliament’s approval for S4C to invest in certain types of projects.25
Neither Channel 4 nor BBC Worldwide are subject to a regime where the Secretary of State and Parliament are required to approve certain types of investment made with commercially generated funds.
Being more commercial keeps S4C sharper, more in tune with its audience, competitors and other businesses, and ensures we are better placed to learn of, and capitalise on, opportunities as they arise.
We wish to become a future-fit media content provider that delivers public services at the highest levels for our audience, for the economy and for society as a whole, resulting in: