Last week I was on a panel at the Australasian Media & Broadcasting Congress where we were discussing the future of advertising. One of the questions I was asked was whether I thought 3D TV was the future of television advertising. My response was an emphatic NO.
Nonetheless we did discuss many concepts that probably going to be a big part of television and advertising going forward and it seems to me that Masterchef has them in spades.
1. A good storyline will always be successful, even if its not alone in guaranteeing success. Masterchef cleverly builds towards a climax like most reality TV shows but really allows us to follow the growth of the contestants over the series. We get to know them and see them improve.
2. Its informational and entertaining. While infotainment is hardly a new concept, wrapping infotainment into reality TV seems to work very well, which leads to….
3. Its a marketers wet dream. Product placement, sponsorship, advertising, merchandise and other product spin-offs….Masterchef generates marketing opportunities and revenue at so many levels rather than just relying on the 30 second advertising sales. Traditional media outlets have been slow to move beyond the 30 second TVC and realise that multiple revenue models are now possible and required. Masterchef does it well. The key is to respect the audience and not take it too far.
4. Its the perfect fit for a big spending industry. Masterchef is such an amazing fit for the big food retailers that they’ll pay a premium to be involved.
5. Its event-TV. This is important in the TiVo, IQ era. When a program generates that magic “water-cooler” talk and has a fast-moving storyline like Masterchef does then its not the sort of program you’ll stockpile to watch later. This is good for ratings buzz and great for advertisers. It overcomes the problem networks now have with quality foreign content that is easy to download before it goes to air here.
6. It has a good web presence to support it. The Masterchef website supports the program admirably. It has full episodes to watch, blogs, behind the scenes video for the die-hards, recipes, forums and interactive elements. The producers successfully integrated Twitter and Facebook into the mix and kept the online buzz high throughout the series.
7. Finally its one of those rare examples of network TV not cynically taking viewers for granted. When it first launched in Australia Masterchef was a breathe of fresh air. A new idea (originally done overseas but not as well) with a positive, feel-good spin. It wasn’t expected to be this successful, but it was allowed to build and audience. Sure Nine and Seven will now run cooking shows like crazy to cash-in on the Masterchef success but what they really should be doing is developing other fresh ideas rather than sucking the life out of somebody else’s with me-too programming.
Masterchef was a ratings powerhouse all season long. In a period of fragmented media audiences the final became the 3rd most-watched program in the last decade with over 4 million viewers. Meanwhile, cynical programming suffers.
With Masterchef, Channel TEN and Fremantle Media have created the perfect storm for modern television and advertising. In a year that saw Hey Hey Its Saturday return to Nine and Seven struggle for anything fresh, this is the future of television.