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Channel 4 launches streaming channels in U.S.

It is the first time Britain's alternative TV broadcaster has offered its own streaming content in the United States.

It is the first time Britain's alternative TV broadcaster has offered its own streaming content in the United States.

Channel 4, the British alternative television broadcaster, has launched two free, ad-supported streaming channels in the United States for the first time.

The two new channels, called 4 Adventure and 4 Emergency, will incorporate TV programs broadcast on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom along with a handful of acquired programming that was licensed specifically for the streaming channels.

“Launching our first ever international channels is a pivotal moment for Channel 4 and opens up a huge range of exciting possibilities,” Ale Wall, the head of streaming and editorial for Channel 4’s U.K. and international operations, said this week. “These channels will introduce U.S. audiences to popular shows that embody our core brand values, bringing Channel 4’s unique tone of voice and our rich British culture to the U.S. FAST market.”

Shows like “24 Hours in A&E,” “Emergency Rescue,” “On the Frontline” and “The Island with Bear Grylls” are just some of the programs set to air on the free, ad-supported streaming channels, executives affirmed on Monday.

Channel 4 was launched to provide underserved audiences with access to alternative programming that might not be shown on Britain’s two main broadcast channels, the publicly-owned BBC and commercial network ITV.

By law, Channel 4 is not permitted to develop its own programming; instead, the network is required to acquire shows developed by independent television studios (though it does operate a studio division, called Film 4, which produces and distributes feature-length movies).

The new channels will be distributed across two major streaming platforms in the United States — Comcast’s Xumo Play and Fox Corporation’s Tubi — as well as the independent streaming app Plex. Other distribution partners are expected to be announced in the coming months.

Amagi, Broadcast Intelligence and Nielsen’s Gracenote will handle various technical aspects of the new streaming channels, which will allow Channel 4 to broaden its reach to U.S.-based advertisers for the first time.

“It also provides a great opportunity to further diversify our revenue streams, and with more deals in the pipeline, we’re really excited about this new chapter for Channel 4,” Wall said.

American partners are equally excited to welcome in the new channels to their platforms.

“With nearly 250 channels, our FAST offering provides our viewers with a lean-back, drop-in experience, allowing them to dive deep into their obsessions, from reality, to documentaries, to action and beyond,” Sam Harowitz, the vice president of content acquisition at Tubi, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to partner with Channel 4 to bring their beloved British programming to our platform, which we’re certain will entertain and captivate our audiences.”

“The launch of Channel 4 on Xumo Play enhances our international offerings, and brings uniquely British content to millions of viewers on our industry leading FAST service,” Anthony Layser, the executive director of content acquisition and programming at Xumo, the joint venture operated by Comcast and Charter Communications, said on Monday. “Channel 4 offers a highly entertaining cultural twist with lifestyle content from reality shows and documentaries to action and drama that is certain to resonate with U.S. audiences.”

The new channels will debut on the three platforms later this month.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).