Channel 4 is a publicly owned free-to-air television network in the UK. It was launched in 1982 and was established to provide an additional channel to BBC 1, BBC 2, and ITV. 4oD was launched on 16th November 2006.
When we met Channel 4, the global mobile transformation was in full swing. Mobile had become a viable option for brands with the launch of the iPhone 3GS and iPad. Channel 4 saw mobile devices as a logical viewing platform for their content. We were selected to lead the charge and the mobile strategy for the creation of 4OD.
The problem was this: how do you take something as big and complex as an online viewing platform and distil it into something that would work on a mobile device. The challenge was that nothing like this had been done before, so an element of creativity was required to meet the brief. Additionally, users hadn’t experienced something like this before, so it had to be easy to understand and use.
Therefore, we had to meet a set of unknown needs and requirements of users. Finally, we had to bring the strategy and proposition back around to the relevance and purpose of the project to maintain our course and create something meaningful.
We had to connect the brand and the overarching product strategy, as well as the users, whilst creating meaning and usability.
What We Did
First, we did iPad. Then we focused on iPhone, Android, TVs, and consoles. This left the web last, but we connected the purpose to everything we did throughout all of this. We connected the purpose by focusing on onward journeys for every touchpoint. This meant ensuring users always had something to do next and extend their experience.
We also delivered Channel 4’s live proposition, which meant watching TV on a digital screen. Again, this hadn’t been done before, so this was a significant step forward in content consumption. In the mix was ensuring that the customer experience was right and the brand experience, as Channel 4 was such a distinctive brand.
We had to make sure that the brand was transferred across all the different screens and formats to deliver users the right kind of experience. Alongside all of this, we provided an experience roadmap. Part of the roadmap was asking what we thought the future of this experience would look like, which was a crucial element as it hadn’t been done before.
The whole journey involved customer experience, innovation, new business models, and product strategy in order to keep Channel 4 relevant as the market moved towards mobile transformation.
Outcomes and Solutions
The whole project ended up being the market-leading video-on-demand service. It looked and felt like a Channel 4 experience and arrived on mobile rather than limping on to it, which was down to the strategy we produced.
Over time, the product has become normalised, but at the time, it was a giant leap forward in content consumption and on-demand services. The customer experience we created alongside the product strategy helped it feel relevant and purposeful instead of a gimmick that wouldn’t last long. At the time, a plethora of apps and products appeared that came about because of the mobile boom but didn’t last very long. Our strategy ensured there was longevity and a genuinely valuable customer experience.