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Channel 4 News audience decline blamed on ‘Brexit fatigue’

Jon Snow anchors Channel 4 News, which has seen a fall in its audience (Jane Barlow/PA)
Jon Snow anchors Channel 4 News, which has seen a fall in its audience (Jane Barlow/PA)

The audience for Channel 4 News has dropped with the broadcaster blaming “Brexit fatigue” for the fall.

Channel 4 has also recorded losses in its young and minority viewers overall, according to its annual report.

Channel 4 News suffered a 9% fall in its viewership from 2017 to 2018, figures in the report show.

The report published by the public service broadcaster has highlighted a fall in its viewership among young and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) audiences.

Channel 4 headquarters
Channel 4 has seen a huge rise in online views (Philip Toscano/PA)

Channel 4 has said the fall comes as part of a huge shift to digital formats over traditional TV, and blamed Brexit for the drop in viewership for its flagship news programme.

The annual report by the broadcaster stated: “Brexit fatigue has disproportionately affected viewing to the main two in-depth news review programmes, Channel 4 News and BBC’s Newsnight.”

Channel 4 has also said that a move to YouTube – which has seen a rise in audience – amid an overall digital shift, has affected figures.

The broadcaster saw a 26% boost in online viewing through All 4 during 2018, even as its traditional TV viewing share fell 3%.

Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, said: “Digital viewing grew by a whopping 26% in 2018. That allowed us to reach a record 915 million views across the year.

“It’s the largest annual rise we’ve ever recorded. It’s incredible to have a rise like that after eight years of continuous growth.”

BAME and hard to reach audience figures fell by 6% from 2017 to 2018 despite it being “especially important to the broadcaster to attract ethnic minority audience”.

The audience share of 16 to 34-year-olds tuning into Channel 4 fell 3% from 2017 to 2018, and on E4 the fall was more pronounced at 9% during the same time.

Mahon said of the downturn for certain viewing demographics: “We’ve got phenomenal growth on the digital side.

“When you go to younger audiences a lot of their behaviour is actually on streaming.

“You also need time for the new shows to come through. That’s what makes the difference.

“We’re seeing those shows start to have an impact on a younger audience.”

She added: “We’re very committed to that challenge of attracting young audiences.”

Channel 4 News recorded a downturn of 9% from 2017 to 2018. Its viewership is measured in terms of 15 consecutive minutes watched each month.

Channel 4 News content on Youtube more than doubled its viewership to 133 million.

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