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Channel 4 News blames audience dip on 'Brexit fatigue' and increased viewing competition

Channel 4 News has in part blamed “Brexit fatigue” after its average viewing audience fell by a tenth in 2018.

The hour-long nightly news programme, which airs at 7pm, was watched by an average of 7.4m people a month last year.

This was down 9 per cent year-on-year after what Channel 4 described as “four years of relative stability” in its annual report for 2018, out today.

Channel 4 News’ audience share also fell by eight per cent after four years of consecutive growth.

Channel 4 attributed these declines to four main factors, starting with a three per cent drop in the overall share of viewers tuning into the channel.

Secondly it said “Brexit fatigue” has “disproportionately affected” the number of viewers tuning into “the two main in-depth news review programmes” – Channel 4 News and BBC Two’s Newsnight – which lost seven per cent of its own viewing share.

It also said there was “increased competition” in its weekday slot from other shows, such as soaps, and from rival news programming.

Channel 4 pointed in particular to BBC Four’s Beyond 100 Days, which airs at 7pm weekdays and explores the day’s events from a global perspective.

Finally the broadcaster said changing viewer habits mean “news continues to be consumed increasingly on digital and social media”.

In response, it said it has “actively grown its presence beyond the main channel in recent years” and has “further initiatives in place” to continue this trend throughout 2019.

Channel 4 News doubled the number of views on its Youtube channel to 113m in 2018, of nearly two-thirds came from 13 to 34-year-olds.

The newsbrand’s Youtube now reaches more than 2m 16 to 34-year-olds in the UK every month who watch at least five minutes on average, it said.

On Twitter, Channel 4 News videos generated another 113m views, up 29 per cent year-on-year, while it has partnered with Facebook to produce weekly news show Uncovered in which its correspondents go behind the headlines of lesser-reported global stories.

Overall Channel 4’s revenues grew from £960m to £975m in 2018, partly driven by digital revenue growth of 11 per cent.

Investment in Channel 4 News held steady at £27m across both 2017 and 2018, while Channel 4’s current affairs programming had a slightly increased budget from £25m to £27m.

Channel 4 News is produced by ITN. The company’s broadcast news revenues increased slightly to £88.9m in 2018, up from £87.8m the year before. ITN also produces ITV News and 5 News.

Picture: Channel 4 News

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