Channel 4 claims UK first with dedicated centralised second-screen app
Editor | 06-06-2013

As part of its ongoing viewer engagement strategy, Channel 4 is claiming a first for UK broadcasters in the form of a dedicated centralised app to accompany its channels and programming.

The 4Now app, to be launched into beta phase in July to registered Channel 4 users, is designed to offer an always-on, centralised destination for synchronised experiences, enabling registered viewers to access additional content for the programmes they're watching across the Channel 4 portfolio.

These will include programme information, social media activity and interactive content like real-time polls, votes and quizzes. Going forward, 4Now will also include exclusive content and a range of interactive experiences, including play-along games, designed to be enjoyed whilst watching specific TV programmes.

Such technology is crucial for the UK's fourth largest broadcaster which has made its mark offering innovative and in some cases edgy programming, in particular dramas and reality shows, to a generally younger and more engaged audience that other UK channels. Indeed, Channel 4 claims at present over eight million registered users including a third of all 16-24-year-olds in the UK. Such users will be given the chance to provide feedback on the product as part of its ongoing development.

Already the channel boasts a number of synchronised second-screen successes including the Million Pound Drop play-along app and this year's C4 HorseTracker app, which allowed users to track the position and speed of their horse in The Grand National.

Aiming to further its monetisation options, Channel 4 added that it will be working closely with its advertising partners to develop and trial new advertising formats and commercial opportunities for 4Now. From inception the app supports interactive sponsorship opportunities and audio-triggered, real-time advertising that is synchronised with ads on the main screen.

Commenting on the new service, Keith Underwood, director of strategy & technology at Channel 4, said: "Channel 4 has a long history of delivering innovative new technology projects. As a centralised product destination, 4Now allows us to enhance our relationship with viewers and enables us to offer them a range of interactive, synchronised experiences for shows which may not have warranted a standalone application. Additionally, it enables us to drive further commercial opportunities for our advertising partners."

Following the results of testing during the beta phase, Channel 4 aims to fully launch 4Now to consumers later this year. The app will initially be available on iOS, with other platforms being considered for future launch.