Tag Archives: TV

Not great, Brittin

But better.  Last week, at IAB Engage, Matt Brittin, Google’s vice president of business and operations in Europe, said that YouTube in the UK was ‘bigger’ than ITV (channel? broadcaster?) for 15-34s.  This is something of a rethink from what was being said by Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt back in May when he said that YouTube had ‘overtaken’ the whole of TV.

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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…

Autumnal reasons to thank TV advertisers

Autumn is here, sort of, and with it comes our annual windfall of wonderfully telly.

Downton has returned with new costumes, new skulduggery, new staff, new ghosts from Mr Bates’s past, new will-they-won’t-they-can-they-should-they, the same dusters and decorum, and a hatful of Emmys. It attracted 10 million viewers on its return, at least 9 of whom work here at Thinkbox.

Of course, despite its massive success and  popularity, Downton isn’t everyone’s cup of afternoon tea, and there are even dissenters among the Thinkbox ranks. That is of course the beauty of telly: there is something for everyone at any time and, increasingly, in any place.
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5 things Cambridge taught me

Like the best of TV, RTS Cambridge had everything: comedy, drama, breaking news, current affairs, media celebrities, factual, entertainment, glamour and excitement. There was something for everyone.

Here are five things that have stuck in my mind:

There is always room for more jargon
Media is awash with impenetrable jargon, but Peter Bazalgette’s invitation to the audience to invent new TV acronyms and short-hand phrases shows that there is room for more, such as a “Dyke”, a soldier who refuses to accept that the war is over, or to do a “Thommo”, to create a rumour that a much loved niche channel is set to close purely in order to save it to great public acclaim. Allied to this theme of creative phrasing was Sir Martin Sorrell’s advice to “eat your own children before someone else does”. Read more on 5 things Cambridge taught me…

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.

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TV weaves through the MediaGuardian 100

It might just be me, but the annual MediaGuardian 100 – just published – provides a lovely insight into the many ways TV touches upon our different media and various parts of our media lives. It is an elegant – albeit accidental – exposition of convergence and shows how TV is the strong and consistent thread running through almost every aspect of the media landscape.

The set-up for the list betrays a lingering – though thankfully declining – propensity to play ‘old’ or ‘traditional’ media off against ‘new’ or ‘digital’ media. The front page introduces the 100 (which comes with a heavy disclaimer on how it was chosen) by saying:

“Back in the heady days of 2001, [the list] was topped by big broadcasters, AOL and someone called Gordon Brown. How things change…This year, more than ever, digital dominates, with the rise of social media bringing new challenges to traditional businesses. Will newspaper bosses ever dominate the lists again?”

Now I can’t answer that last question, and I suspect the answer is no-one really knows.  But the direction of travel seems to be most definitely from text to audio-visual, whatever technology or platform you’re looking at.  

A Thinkbox interpretation of how TV (an almost entirely digital and very social medium) figures within the top 10 alone will, I’m sure, convince you that TV is truly where it’s at.

Here is the top 10:

1. Steve Jobs, Apple: makes flat devices with screens that let you watch more TV; TV on the bus, TV at work. If he could make faded jeans and black roll necks with screens on, I’m sure he would.
2. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google: search is hugely driven by TV programmes and ads.  Joined the TV business by buying YouTube, a recent convert to ‘proper’ professional TV, making it another TV platform.  Recently announced the coming of Google TV.
3. Mark Thompson, BBC: works for a company that makes some of the best TV in the world, and a pioneer of on-demand TV with iPlayer
4. Rupert Murdoch, News Corp: the Daddy of pay TV.  Trying to buy all of Sky.  MediaGuardian says he is ‘betting the future on television’
5. Evan Williams, Twitter: nothing gives a better window into how TV’s shared ‘virtual sofa’ encourages real time debate and chatter than Twitter. It would be a lot quieter without TV
6. Simon Cowell: fronts and owns some of the biggest TV shows in the UK (and isn’t exactly small on US TV)
7. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook: owner of the home to countless TV programme and advertising fan pages and conversations. Facebook without TV would be a less exciting, and visited, place.
8. James Murdoch, News Corp and BSkyB: chairman of a major UK TV company
9. Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary: obviously will have more than a passing interest in all things TV, especially how it is funded
10. Archie Norman, ITV: chairman of the largest commercial UK TV channel group

And we need not stop at the top 10 (at 11 is Martin Sorrell, who makes a fair bit of money from commercial TV; at 12 is Jay Hunt, controller of BBC1…).

Obviously, even I might struggle to see the TV-ness of some of the people in the 100 (Clay Shirky, [no. 93], for example – although he was only too happy to use TV interviews to plug his new book, on sale at all good bookshops priced at £20 – or you can get the gist for free here).

But my point is that, although this blog is an obviously TV-centric way of looking at it (radio and newspapers could have a go too), I’d suggest it is as valid – if not more so – as banging on endlessly about global ‘digital’ technologists.  The list should be at least as much about the people who make the content, professional or not, that makes digital platforms, broadcast and online, worth visiting.

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Nike’s Glee?

The nauseatingly cute and diverse young cast of Glee has been summoned to the White House to perform for the Obamas this Easter. But our favourite character from the show won’t be there; Sue Sylvester (actress Jane Lynch) will be busy washing her Adidas track suits.

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