Archive for March 4th, 2009

TV or Not TV

ITV slashes costs as 2008 profits dive 41% | Media |

ITV is to cut 600 jobs, slice £65m from its programme budget and look to sell Friends Reunited and Freeview business SDN as it reported an adjusted pre-tax profit fall of 41% in 2008.

The stricken broadcaster, whose TV ad revenue is down about 20% in the first quarter, said today that it would seek to save £155m this year, rising to total savings of £175m next year and £245m in 2011 through a variety of cost-cutting measures.

Say, I’ve just figured out a great way for ITV and other broadcasters to cut costs substantially without getting rid of any of our favourite programmes.

The measures would apply to all of the following -ice skating contests, singing contests, impress the nasty capitalist boss whose approval we all seek contests, celebrity ice skating cookery with celebrity singing nasty capitalist boss chef contests, celebrity property developer liposuction on ice contests, and the news. This covers about 95% of broadcast output.

It works like this. Every frame of action on TV you see involves production costs: lighting, set design, the wages of the presenters and protagonists, camera operators, and so on. The more variation in the content you see in the frames, with shots from different angles, different people talking etc, the higher the variable cost (in the long run, this is also true of fixed costs, but let’s be conservative).

Now, think Ryanair. Ryanair gets you from A to B, or at least A to somewhere in the general direction of B and doesn’t give a shit about anything else. So let us think in terms of what the people really want, and deliver it at a lower cost. Clearly, what people really want in their TV programmes is not singing, dancing, cooking and other such activities, but the looming moment of suspense, with kettle drums and close-ups before the (always unsatisfyingly anti-climactic) announcement that the little breakdancing goatherd will advance to next week’s fifth round of Liposuction for Oklahoma!. So why not give them what they want?

At the moment, these moments of suspense are dreadfully short, lasting five minutes or so, a disgracefully small proportion of overall airtime. So why not just extend these moments substantially? I’m thinking they should last 45 minutes out of any 50 minute slot, with 5 minutes devoted to idle chatter and a brief explanation of whatever the hell it is the contestants are supposed to be doing. That way TV channels can radically cut back on fat cat presenters, the wages of the people who sit looking at screens saying ‘cut to this’, and so on, and still deliver high quality entertainment to the people. And you can watch that advertising revenue flood in: spending so much time on tenterhooks leaves audiences gasping for some sort of respite -which is when they’re most receptive to messages about buying Toilet Duck and writing off up to 95% of their loans in one
easy-to-manage, consolidated loan.

Don’t thank me: I’m just a new media savvy New Thinker with a meitheal mentality, throwing those ideas out there like so much chicken feed. Fatcat TV bosses better pay heed before some Young Turkey comes along and gobbles it all up.

I on Twitter

March 2009