SBS shows the way with their Tour de Force
21Jul11

For the last 20 years I have been glued to SBS during July watching their coverage of my favourite sporting event, le Tour de France.

In recent years our multicultural broadcaster has upped the ante by introducing live coverage of the race, initially on key stages and now every night.

This year they’ve taken it a significant step further again. Not only can you watch the Tour live every night from 10.30pm (AEST), or 10pm if you want some recaps and Gabriel Gate’s food segment, but now you can follow the race via the SBS Tour de France website, Tour Tracker or iPad (update: plus Android and LG connected TV) apps with latest stats and high resolution streaming video. It is wonderful.

But wait there’s more…..

You can also follow the SBS Tour coverage via Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

Rather than detract from the audience’s attention to the TV screen these various options enhance the overall experience. We can watch the SBS coverage anywhere (no audio), get some real-time insight from various experts and commentators and have bit of fun comparing your stage picks versus the experts.

Read the rest of this entry »

NBN & WIN decide Come Fly With Me might be too offensive for regional viewers
16May11

Come Fly With Me cast. Image from BBC

Last week I ranted about the poor offerings on Freeview, especially on the commercial channels. Today there’s even more reason to complain.

Tonight at 8pm the Nine Network (which these days also owns NBN Television) will begin showing Come Fly With Me, a new series by the guys from Little Britain. This was the highest rating new comedy series in the UK last year and a second series has been commissioned by the BBC.

After a run of comedic flops on Nine this year (Ben Elton, Mike & Molly and Sh*t My Dad Says) the eagerly anticipated Come Fly With Me offers a reason to finally flick over to the self-described “home of laughter” for a genuine laugh.

But NBN and WIN have decided not to run Come Fly With Me fearing it might offend regional viewers. Instead it will run repeats of Big Bang Theory.

Nine are running an edited version of Come Fly With Me they feel is suitable for the 8pm PG timeslot, yet NBN and WIN feel even this is too risque for our regional sensibilities.

If viewers in the NBN and WIN regions want to watch Come Fly With Me they can wait until 10pm and watch it on GO!

What’s more offensive, running a new program that’s already been a proven winner in the UK or deciding that regional viewers are somehow more sensitive than their capital city counterparts and would be happier with a safe old repeat?

At a time when free to air TV is under threat from Torrent downloads, subscription TV and a plethora of other entertainment options this decision is baffling and provides another reason for viewers to drift away from FTA as their first choice for entertainment.

As the principal of an advertising agency I want commercial television to be strong so clients have the opportunity to reach the best possible audience, but safety-first programming like this is actually harming the industry.

What do you think about NBN and WIN’s decision not to run Come Fly With Me despite it running in all capital cities on Nine?

Update: Somebody close to the action at NBN has just told me that the word is it was a directive from head office at Nine not to run Come Fly With Me in prime-time in regional areas, not a local programing decision. While Nine have been suffering badly in the ratings against Masterchef, NBN and WIN are still performing strongly. The thought is that Nine were willing to sacrifice Come Fly With Me against Masterchef as they have nothing to lose, however NBN / WIN would be better sticking with what has been working for them. If this is the case, and it hasn’t been confirmed, then at least it makes sense from a purely strategic point-of-view and is a much better explanation than what has been offered officially. Perhaps they should just come out and say it.

Update 17 May: Ironically Come Fly Turned out to be the best comedy premiere for Nine this year after the failure of Ben Elton, Sh*t My Dad Says and Mike & Molly. Its also one of the best performing shows for Nine at all this year. Come Fly With Me debuted with 1.488million viewers in the capital cities last night, not far behind the nights top program Masterchef (1.571m) and ahead of the much hyped Amazing Race Australia (1.258m). If the previous theory bout sacrificing CFWM against Masterchef is true then Nine must have been pleasantly surprised with the results. It once again begs the question, why aren’t NBN and and WIN showing it. I’ll post Newcastle results as a comparison when I get them.

Update 720pm 17 May: NBN General Manager Deborah Wright has just announced that they will now show Come Fly With Me at 8pm Mondays from next week following the success of the program. We observe that this might also have something to do with the fact Masterchef rated very well in Northern NSW against NBN while Come Fly With Me performed well in the capital cities for Nine.

Freeview TV, a wasted opportunity
9May11

Freeview

As Freeview rolls out another promotional campaign, their 3rd by my count, to tell us how ‘everybody loves it’ I can’t help but think what a wasted opportunity this has been for the free to air TV industry.

In the last few years Australia has gone from 5 FTA networks (ABC, SBS, Nine, Seven & TEN – plus affiliates) to 16 stations. In what should have been an excellent opportunity to grow market share and thwart the multiple threats of subscription TV, web downloads and a generally distracted, multitasking population, FTA have managed to roll out very few reasons to tune in.

The commercial stations have been the worst offenders. 7 Mate, 7 Two, GO!, Gem and 11 are all home to tired repeats and second rate programming. I can honestly say that I have never had any reason to switch on four of these five channels. The promise of quality programs that weren’t quite ratings friendly enough for the main channels running in prime time slots on the new digital channels hasn’t really eventuated. There are a few quality programs buried in the schedules, usually at less than friendly times. But there’s plenty of I Love Lucy, Hogans Heroes, ‘Allo ‘Allo and other retro schtick if you’re into that sort of thing.

For example look at tonight’s programs on the newer commercial channels:

Read the rest of this entry »

25% likely to switch-off pay TV in Australia
2Dec10

via media release

Cutting the cable

Will Australians cut the cable?

Research released today by Free TV Australia revealed that one in four pay TV subscribers are likely to cancel or downgrade their pay TV subscription because of the increased choice offered by the new free-to-air channels.

The national survey, conducted by Jigsaw Strategic Research last month, was part of a broader quantitative study of more than 1,500 digital TV viewers that explored consumers’ attitudes towards the recently launched free-to-air channels (ie. 7TWO, GO!, ONE, 7MATE and GEM as well as ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBSHD, SBSTwo).

The study found that:

Read the rest of this entry »

Internet TV: you know you’re old if…
29Nov10

There is a lot of conjecture about Internet Television, how we will consume it and how it will affect us. This entertaining presentation was given at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in November 2010 to debunk some of the myths (sorry, I have somehow forgotten who did this presentation).

Internet TV will change viewing habits forever

Internet TV will change viewing habits forever

You know you’re old if…

  • You think you’ll need a box to watch Internet TV
  • You think you’ll need apps to watch Internet TV
  • If you want to watch TV on your TV
  • If you want to watch TV with other people
  • If you watch more than 36 hours of TV per week (in which case it’s ambient, running in the background most of the time rather than being content that you elect to view when you wish)
  • You think that Internet TV is “amateur hour” and that no web originals are professional

Viewing habits have changed remarkably in recent generations. Internet TV will result in an even more dramatic shift in media consumption.

Game changer: will Google TV change the way we consume media?
5Oct10

Google TV is on the way and could be one of the biggest interruptions to traditional media ever. Its all about total media convergence. The best of the web, TV and social networking all through the dominant household screen. It’ll be interesting to see how Google TV catches on and whether the big players in Australian media will be able to thwart its growth.

This first video is an introduction to Google TV while the second video demonstrates apps for Google TV.

Game changer? Quite possibly.

Glass half full theory: How television’s fragmenting industry could be reinventing itself online
3Sep10

Mediahunter: Is the television industry's glass half empty or half full?

Is the television industry's glass half empty or half full?

The current state of the television industry can be compared to the idiom, “Is the glass half empty or half full? The pessimistic view is that the end is nigh and television is on a steady decline with internet technology as its biggest threat. But there are many who take the optimistic “glass half full” approach and are looking for opportunities for television online.

Television’s once unassailable mass media dominance has been significantly reduced in recent years as networks have been squeezed by falling rates and the fragmentation their once loyal audiences.

Viewers can now choose between a growing number of digital channels, subscription TV and internet downloads of their favourite programs. They can skip the ads using personal video recorders like FoxtelIQ and TiVo, or once gain by downloading the programs.

And that’s not to mention the multitude of other devices competing for viewers attention, especially as new generations are being raised glued to mobile devices and 2 minute videos on YouTube.

The sun has set on television’s glory years and many in the industry lament its steady demise. These are dire times.

Or are they?

Read the rest of this entry »

Monkey business at Prime?
20Aug10

Channel 7 has announced a third channel to be named 7Mate. The station will be squarely focussed on the male 16 to 49 demographic with a range of shows like Family Guy, American Dad, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother as well as more as the much maligned Jersey Shore and Punk’d.

The big question is how Seven’s regional affilliate, Prime, will react. When Seven launched their second station 7TWO , Prime took quite a while to respond, allegedly due to unhappiness over the name not being suitable for affilliates.

Will it be called Prime-mate?

Is 3D going to be the future of advertising? [Comments needed]
29Jun10

Next month I am going to be a panelist at the 5th Annual Australasian Media & Broadcasting Congress in Sydney as media leaders discuss the industry and its future directions and I really need your help.

Is 3D the future of advertising?

Is 3D the future of advertising?

One panel I am really looking forward to is titled The Future of Advertising. I’ll be discussing the big issues with Adam Good from Clemenger, Paddy Douneen from BMF, Marty O’Halloran from DDB Australia & New Zealand, John Sintras from Starcom Worldwide, Matt Whittingham from SingTel Optus and Paul Fisher from IAB Australia.

The initial question coming my way is based on a statement by Oscar-winning producer Jon Landau at the Cannes International Advertising Festival:

“3D is going to be the future of advertising”

Now I have been rather unexcited by the whole 3D thing and have my own opinions about it, but maybe I am way off base. So I’d really like to know what you think. Is 3D going to be the future of advertising? Is it just a fad, hyped by a desperate industry or is it groundbreaking technology that is going to make us love TV all over again and lap up the exciting advertisements that will be leaping off the screen?

I’d love to hear from people within the media and advertising industries. I’d also appreciate feedback from people who have invested in 3D televisions to understand their experiences so far.

All feedback is very welcome. I will compile the answers as part of my response to what I hope becomes a very lively debate at the Media & Broadcasting Congress.

When all else fails…try nostalgia
18May10

Is traditional media and advertising reaching the end of the creative line? In an increasingly cluttered media landscape it seems that nostalgia is being seen as the way to cut through and grasp our remaining collective attention.

Radio has long used the “formative years” approach to appeal to different demographics. This means playing music that was new during the teenage years of the desired audience. The result has been a plethora of classic hits and golden oldies formats. Read the rest of this entry »