Business News Deals Media

Channel 4 takes complete ownership of The Box Plus Network

By | Published on Wednesday 9 January 2019

The Box Plus Network

Channel 4 has taken complete ownership of The Box Plus Network, buying Bauer Media out of the music television venture.

The UK division of Bauer, then called EMAP, bought into independent jukebox TV channel The Box all the way back in 1997. One of the early UK music telly channels, it made most of its money through the premium phone numbers people had to call to request a video be played, some idiots being willing to do such a thing in the pre-YouTube age.

EMAP built a wider TV business around The Box as cable and satellite television boomed, often launching channels to accompany the music-centric brands owned by its magazine and radio divisions. It then sold 50% of that telly business to Channel 4 in 2007, a few months before German media group Bauer bought much of the EMAP company. The following year this new Bauer/Channel 4 joint venture rebranded one of its channels as 4Music.

It’s no secret that music television channels have been heavily hit by the rise of YouTube and other online music services. Most broadcasters have tried to adapt by launching websites, apps and even their own channels on YouTube, though it’s still a challenge to stay relevant, especially with younger consumers who have only ever known a world where music videos are always available on demand on any device for free.

In some cases, music TV makers have shifted more to long-form programming and general entertainment content to stand out, while also pushing into the brand partnerships game to boost revenues.

What became known as The Box Plus Network currently operates seven TV channels: 4Music, The Box, Box Upfront, Box Hits, Kiss, Kerrang! and Magic. Channel 4 yesterday said that, by taking complete control of the business, it will be able to increase value across the Box network itself and the wider Channel 4 portfolio. Meanwhile Bauer confirmed it will continue to license its Kiss, Magic and Kerrang! brands to the telly firm.

Announcing the deal, Channel 4’s COO Keith Underwood said: “This transaction brings the UK’s largest and most-watched music television network fully into the Channel 4 family. As part of a broader channel portfolio, we will work with the management team of the Box Plus Network to amplify the value of the assets acquired. This acquisition forms part of our wider strategy to enhance engagement with youth audiences”.

Meanwhile Bauer UK CEO Paul Keenan said: “Channel 4 are best placed to realise the full potential of the Box Plus Network as 4Music increasingly moves towards broader, entertainment and long form programming”.

Namechecking the MD of The Box Plus Network, Matt Rennie, Keenan added that he’d like to “thank Matt and his talented team at Box for great work and give our best wishes for the future”.