C4 follows foreign drama craze; to launch new World Drama service

Channel 4 is hoping to profit from the recent popularity of non-English language drama by launching a new online TV service this autumn.

Following recent foreign drama acquisitions by BBC Four, ITV Encore and Sky Arts, Channel 4 is preparing to launch its new TV service, which has the working title 4World Drama this autumn. It promises to showcase foreign-language drama series from around the world and will be available free and on-demand to all UK viewers.

The service will be exclusively available in the UK via Channel 4’s new digital hub, All 4, which recently replaced 4oD and is available online, on mobile and on a number of connected TV platforms, including the forthcoming Freeview Play service. Non-connected viewers will be able to see a range of programming from the service within a dedicated slot on More4.

Channel 4 says the launch will capitalise on the growing demand for premium foreign-language drama from British viewers and the wide range of high quality international drama that has not yet been broadcast in the UK.

More than 500 hours of drama will be exclusively available for box-set viewing on All 4, supported by advertising and sponsorship to be sold by Channel 4.

The 4World Drama video-on-demand service is being launched in the UK through an exclusive partnership between Channel 4 and Global Series Network, founded and managed by Jason Thorp, Walter Iuzzolino and Jo McGrath. The two parties plan to rollout World Drama in a number of other TV markets.

Announcing the launch of the new service, Channel 4 Chief Executive, David Abraham, said:
“We’ve seen from the response to titles like The Returned on Channel 4 that there’s a real appetite for quality international drama from UK viewers – but only a small selection of foreign-language series have been able to get a UK broadcast partner. This new service will be a fantastic showcase for creative talent around the world and an innovative addition to All 4.”

Global Series Network’s Walter Iuzzolino said: 
“4World Drama is a heavily curated service bringing together the very best scripted content from around the world, offering viewers an outstanding selection of must-see series – from Czech political thrillers to Belgian murder capers, Argentine family sagas to German cold war pieces… the most exciting storytelling in the world is finally coming together in one place.”

  • In other Channel 4 news, the channel is preparing to get a refreshed look from later this year, according to reports today. Channel 4's current look dates back over ten years. The iconic 4 logo is set to remain. The reported refresh comes after new figures from its latest annual report show that Channel 4 has been struggling with low viewing figures during the past year, despite airing some critically acclaimed shows. The Daily Mail pounced on the news that the boss of Channel 4, David Abraham earns twice as much as the BBC's Director General, despite the channel's rating performance. Meanwhile, industry insiders fear the Government is planning to privatise the channel in the coming years, with Channel 4 executives going on record warning of the effects of privatisation.

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