Posts Tagged: Thinkbox

Umming and ermine

Fresh new thinking from the second chamber – that’s the House of Lords, not the upstairs toilet. A new report has claimed there is an ‘overwhelming’ case for transferring TV content from broadcast to the internet, so that the spectrum currently used to broadcast TV can be used by mobile operators.

I salute the Lord’s probable thinking: let’s free up some space for all the mobile TV people will want to watch. Sensible stuff.

I also thought well done, Lords, you’ve appreciated a lot more than many people who work in the media industry: that TV is content and that there are a variety of different ways to deliver that content, one of which is the internet. Read more on Umming and ermine…

TV: the elite athletes of video

I was driving past a primary school the other day and saw all the kids competing in their Olympics-themed sports day, their mums and dads looking on indulgently.  Our village is staging its own Olympics-inspired event where the locals will be encouraged to attempt some sporting trial however laughable – and even life-threatening – those are likely to be.

But in two weeks we’ll all be able to watch the greatest athletes in the world show how all that long-jumping, volley-balling, rowing, cycling or synchronised swimming should really be done.  And, having watched elite sportspeople for two weeks, many people will be fired up and start jogging or playing tennis regularly; some of the younger ones might even end up as Olympic athletes themselves in 2016 or 2020. Read more on TV: the elite athletes of video…

TV saves Twitter yet again

Only joking (again).

As Thinkbox has said roughly a million times, there’s no saving to be done – on either side. It is one happy, mutually beneficial relationship. Social TV at its finest.

But it is interesting, don’t you think, that Twitter has just made and broadcast its first ever TV ad? Clearly it feels broadcast TV advertising has something to offer it that it isn’t getting elsewhere. Not a case of saving, but certainly a case of adding something. Read more on TV saves Twitter yet again…

Taking pride in advertising

It’s been a good week for being proud.  In addition to the Diamond Jubilee festivities and England’s victory over Belgium, our own celebration of excellence – the Thinkbox TV Planning Awards – took place last week.  I couldn’t have been more proud of all 73 writers of the entries, the 20 short-listed papers (particularly the highly commended one), the 6 category winners and the ultimate Grand Prix winner.  You can find out who they were and a little about their work here.

Read more on Taking pride in advertising…

Record number of TV ads viewed may affect house prices

You may well have seen the news out today that commercial TV viewing in the UK had a strong first six months to the year – up 48 minutes a week. Here’s the press release if you want all the detail but one thing that struck us here was the way in which it has been reported and what this says about different perspectives on the world.

Read more on Record number of TV ads viewed may affect house prices…

Rose-tinted testicles

My highlight from this year’s Media 360 was when John Nolan of North One TV, talking about the dangers of nostalgia for a bygone TV era, just stopped himself before advising delegates not to look at the past through “rose-tinted testicles”. I can ‘testify’ it is indeed a dangerous game.

At Thinkbox we try to avoid rose-tinted anythings at industry events.  There is still the occasional danger that a speaker will get the basic facts about TV wrong and we’ll have to put our arm in the air and correct the telly bollocks being spoken . Read more on Rose-tinted testicles…

A graph to remember (we hope)

A picture is allegedly worth a thousand words, though of course moving pictures with sound (aka TV) are worth even more.

Sadly we don’t have any TV to make our point here, so a picture will have to do. It shows what each medium’s share of total advertising has been since 1995, according to the official Advertising Association/WARC figures:

  Read more on A graph to remember (we hope)…


I doubt that the big wedding of the year coming up in April (I’m talking Pattison/Weedon here) sent out any invitations to X +1 on them. The ‘+ 1’ designation can’t help but sound off-hand. But what might sound a bit rude when referring to a human being sounds like a great offer to TV viewers.

Plus 1 channels are a very valuable tool in the evolving TV world, whether you’re a viewer or a broadcaster, offering their own particular form of time-shifting and control. They recognise real viewer behaviour and, when added to the DTR, narrative repeats and on-demand TV, are helping people watch more of the TV they love.

The DTR is brilliant if you’re going to be out, or if two programmes clash, but you do have to plan ahead. On-demand catch-up services are also very popular and cater for people who get a recommendation after the broadcast, either from friends or maybe a newspaper review. They are also essential if you have no DTR (more than half the UK doesn’t) or you’ve messed up the recording.

Plus 1 channels do something different. Middle-aged posh people like me might trawl the Radio Times and pop programmes on the recorder but that’s not what most people do. They have their appointment to view programmes that form the basis of their TV routines, but otherwise they switch on the telly and start flicking through channels or the EPG to see what they fancy. Serendipity is a wonderful thing that can cause viewers to stumble into terrific programmes that might not have caught their eye from a listing. We also know that watching live is the default for the majority of viewers – 93% of TV is watched live – and is preferred for many reasons, of which social media chat is just the latest addition.

Plus 1 channels capitalise on both these behaviours and offer an immediate solution to when you bump into a great programme halfway through but wish you could watch from the start. Respondents in our recent Tellyporting study told us that they valued on-demand TV for catch-up but ideally they don’t want to wait a whole day. Plus 1 channels (and a few +2 channels) solve this. In the Alps household we also depend on +1 channels for watching Channel 4 news (7pm is just too early for me) and for managing all the recording we want to do. There are frequently 3 or 4 brilliant programmes on at the same time but our Sky+ box can only record 2 things at the same time. Along come the +1s to solve that too.

Overall, +1 channels account for about 5% of linear TV viewing but a higher percentage for those specific channels that have them. Channel 4+1 accounts for 11% of the Channel 4 total and the numbers are even higher for smaller channels; Dave ja vu delivers 25% and Living+1 36% of their parent channel totals. There is also a modest but discernible demographic bias to the 16-34s which makes them even more valuable slots for advertisers, though probably not worth changing the ad break line-up for. The numbers for individual programmes can be remarkable; My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding doubles its audience through C4+1.

ITV1 only recently joined the +1 club, on January 11th, in part because CRR has only just been relaxed to allow +1 viewing to be aggregated into the parent channel numbers. The data from the first 2 weeks show that ITV1+1 added about 3% to the parent channel; a smaller % than for most other +1 channels but exactly as expected. The bigger the channel the more people watch it as broadcast and it is after all an extra 3% of the biggest commercial channel. It’s another part of the trend towards the re-aggregation of viewing around favourite TV that we are witnessing

It’s not a cheap option to run a +1 channel. All programming rights and carriage costs have to be paid for again, so a broadcaster really has to evaluate those against what a completely separate service might cost and deliver. But it looks like they are a good investment that works for broadcasters and viewers.

Read more on One-plussed…

I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it. I’m about to use my remote control and I think I’ll like it

It’s not like me to resort to cheesey pop lyrics – though I do confess to an excess of breathless enthusiasm sometimes – but this time I want you to get excited with me about things that really matter: TV programmes.

We are no slouches at Thinkbox when it comes to championing new TV technologies; you might have already seen our new Tellyporting research into TV’s future (if not you can see the re-run on 2 Feb). But all the iPads, and 3D screens and smartphones and companion social media sites would be dreary devices indeed without the life-force and well-spring of great TV content.

Given the near 10% decline in TV ad revenue in 2009, it’s nothing short of miraculous that viewing hasn’t suffered in 2010, with average viewing likely to tip over the 4 hour mark.

Programmes like Downton Abbey (back again this year), This Is England ’86, An Idiot Abroad, Any Human Heart, Take Me Out, One Born Every Minute, Flying Monsters, World Cup coverage, 30Rock, Corrie Live at 50, The Walking Dead, Four Weddings, Australian Masterchef, Dispatches, the Election debates, Million Pound Drop, The Book Show etc. etc., not forgetting the juggernauts of X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and I’m a Celebrity, kept me and millions of others entranced.

So, after a bumper TV revenue year in 2010, up about 14%, and with brilliant programming teams in place across tellyland, what new treasures can we all look forward to in 2011? Further episodes of Downton Abbey aside (what will Lady Mary do about Mr Crawley?) other 2011 ITV dramas include Kidnap & Ransom (with Trevor Eve), Monroe (a medical series with James Nesbitt and Sarah Parish), Vera (Brenda Blethyn as a detective), and two forays into the supernatural – Eternal Law (about two angels on earth) and Marchlands (about a house across the decades containing the spirit of a young girl) – look very tasty.

Highly anticipated new satirical comedy on Channel 4 starts with 10 O’Clock Live this Thursday. Not sure how I will cope with having two unlikely heartthrobs of mine in one show: Charlie Brooker AND David Mitchell. With this, you are spoiling us Channel 4. And in spring, the first series of Campus finally launches, from the team who brought you the best comedy series ever made, Green Wing.

And commercial TV is also delighted to welcome brilliant on-screen talent normally associated with the BBC, from David Attenborough on Sky One to Mary Portas as a Secret Shopper on Channel 4. The launch of Sky Atlantic on February 1st, Sky’s joint venture with HBO will also bring all those classy series within the grasp of advertisers. If you’re not excited about being able to puts ads in Mad Men breaks, then there’s just no pleasing some people, and maybe you should think about another career.

These are just a tiny fraction of the pleasures to come. These, plus lots of new 3D programmes and the new opportunity of product placement means your focus for 2011 should be as squarely on the TV ‘software’ as the TV hardware.

Read more on I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it. I’m about to use my remote control and I think I’ll like it…

The programmes are now as good as the ads

It’s 1987, a hurricane has torn apart southern England, nobody is putting Baby anywhere near the corner in new release Dirty Dancing, and Alex Ferguson has been at Manchester United for a year.

Elsewhere, and slightly lower key, the annual TGI survey of 24,000 UK adults has started to include dozens of lifestyle statements. One of those statements, which has survived to this day is “On television, sometimes the advertisements are as good as the programmes”.

25 years on and there is much debate about the consistent decline in the percentage of people agreeing with this statement about the relative enjoyment of TV ads and programmes.

Dramatic emphasis is added by the fact that this is one of the few statements to have remained intact since 1987. It feels a little like watching a revolution, albeit in market research slow motion; the subtext is that the great British public has fallen slightly out of love with TV ads.

Read more on The programmes are now as good as the ads…