UK broadcaster Channel 4 is branching out of television with the creation of a social-first branded entertainment offer, which seeks to extend the company’s value to advertisers beyond that of a media partner and into content.

Launched this week, the company’s in-house digital content studio will, according to a statement from the channel, take the place of the previously announced Digital Creative Unit. Its social activity will take place within that.

The thinking appears to centre on extending Channel 4’s appeal to viewers aged 16-34 and bringing quality content, created for brands, to the social platforms on which they are likely to be found, “giving youth-focused brands the opportunity to reach this premium audience at scale”.

4Studio places itself consciously in competition with digital first publishers such as Ladbible, VICE, and Jungle Creations as part of a strategy to maximise time spent with the channel wherever the audience may be.

“We’re really proud to be the first broadcaster to be able to offer brands the opportunity to reach our premium youth audiences with meaningful, editorially relevant content for social, either engaging brands with our slate of formats or responding to briefs with bespoke content ideas,” said Sophie Lloyd, branded entertainment and creative leader at Channel 4.

Channel 4 claims to enjoy high reach among youth audiences through its digital presence, with over 100m Facebook users and 800m YouTube views in the past month alone.

Unlike some other legacy broadcasters that have chosen to enter the social fray by acquiring a digitally native company, it is interesting that Channel 4 is building its own capability from scratch with senior figures from Unilad poached to create the new division.

A move into social is – if successful – a canny move for a broadcaster whose broader sector is likely to see a 13.8% dip in spend, according to WARC’s Global Ad Trends report. Meanwhile, social and online video spend are likely to continue to grow, albeit not as fast as they would have had the pandemic not struck.

Sourced from Channel 4, WARC