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S4C unveils a new platform, expanding its reach to 16 million households throughout the UK

WELSHh language broadcaster S4C has launched on Freeview Play, granting access of its content to 16 million households across the UK. The launch, which occurred on 24 July, coincided with the commencement of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, an event that receives comprehensive coverage on S4C.

Through Freeview Play, viewers in Wales and across the UK can now enjoy a diverse range of content from S4C, including dramas, documentaries, and sports on S4C Clic, all conveniently accessible from the service’s home page. Until now, S4C was only available to Freeview viewers in Wales, making this expansion a significant step in broadening the reach of Welsh language programming.

Sian Doyle, the Chief Executive of S4C, expressed her pride in bringing Welsh language programming to a broader audience on Freeview Play. She stated, “We are proud to be able to bring Welsh language programming to a new audience on Freeview Play. We’ll be able to showcase the creativity and talent that we have in Wales in millions of homes across the UK.”

Owen Jenkinson, the Director of Freeview, also shared his enthusiasm about the addition of S4C to their catalogue, which brings the best of Welsh language shows to television.

The expansion does come with some limitations, as S4C confirmed that the new service will not be available on older versions of Freeview Play devices, known as ‘sunset devices,’ as they lack the necessary technology to support the latest apps, being at least 5 years old.

Looking ahead, there are plans to further enhance the viewing experience for audiences. In the coming months, Freeview Play viewers will be able to watch the S4C broadcast channel, access live streaming of sports events and other significant Welsh occasions, and catch up with S4C drama box sets.

Recent viewing figures released by S4C indicated positive growth trends. The broadcaster witnessed an 8% increase in viewership compared to the previous year, marking the highest reported increase in the last five years. Notably, there was a surge in the number of viewers aged 16-44, reaching the highest level in the past decade.

Despite the positive viewership trends, the Annual Report from S4C revealed a financial loss of £4.77 million in the latest financial year, compared to £2.48 million in the previous accounting period. The report also highlighted a significant rise in the executive management team’s expense claims, escalating from £15,723 to £44,814. Additionally, there was a 50% rise in the recorded salary of executive Geraint Evans, which went from £80,000 to £120,000. S4C explained the increase, stating, “In 22/23 Mr. Evans joined the S4C management team in a permanent move to a key role. The salary reflects this change.”

Addressing concerns about program popularity, S4C assured that there is no need for worry even though the top eight most viewed programs were sports-related. The ninth spot was held by a dubbed cartoon, the 10th by Googlebocs Cymru, which was originally created in English and format licensed, and the 11th by another sports program. It was noted that the first original production of Welsh origin to make the list was the coverage of the National Eisteddfod, ranking at number 12.

Overall, the launch of S4C on Freeview Play opens up exciting possibilities for Welsh language programming, reaching a wider audience across the UK and allowing viewers to enjoy a diverse range of content from the broadcaster.

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