On the 3rd of November Hook Research attended The Broadcast Commissioning Forum, where we had the opportunity to listen to decision makers from the UK’s biggest networks talk about where they saw the TV industry moving in the future, most interestingly in regards to daytime TV.
One of the statistics that stood out for us was that 50% of total viewing of BBC content now happens in daytime. Although we didn’t get exact statistics for other channels, it was implied that this trend spanned all traditional terrestrial channels as well. This poses a question about peak-time and what meaning it has for modern TV audiences.
Traditional peaks are still important… but change is coming
Traditionally it was assumed that audiences would coalesce around evening slots. Now, the nature of work and the flexible nature of modern life is gradually forcing a re-evaluation of where networks and channels should focus their development.
Of course, traditional peak-time (17:30 – 23:00, according to Thinkbox) is still incredibly important for a number of reasons:
• viewers expect to engage with TV in the evening (as opposed to having it on in the background)
• viewing patterns are more hard-wired, giving more potential for stripped series
• joint/ family viewing is more likely.
However, as the Broadcast Commissioning Forum indicated, it is time to start thinking of daytime TV content in a more nuanced way.
How might daytime TV develop in future?
Various speakers indicated how daytime TV might develop more in future:
A new understanding of long-running shows: The way daytime and prime audiences overlap is nowhere more evident than in gameshows. Tipping Point, Pointless and the Chase have led the way here. They certainly boss their traditional timeslots but also pack more than enough punch to be primetime Saturday night viewing as well. The power of strong gameshows is evident in ITV’s new commission Babushka which ITV will be airing in the near future.
New personalities: Daytime personalities are no longer only confined to daytime. The resonance of big daytime stars for broader audiences is nowhere more apparent than in Judge Rinder. His show may feel daytime but he is proof that a strong character can work across the schedule – not only is he a powerful participant on Strictly or Celebrity Juice, but he’s also able to put Piers Morgan in his place in the morning.
Peaktime values in Daytime TV: BBC’s recent The Moonstone was period crime content (normally associated with evening peak), placed at 14:15 during the week. This was a signal of intent that the BBC – if not redrawing the scheduling map – had at least started to seriously consider daytime as a home for big new drama.
Strong formats: Every daytime controller we heard was extremely keen on developing and owning strong, repeatable formats. Formats representing a recognisable side of the family slice and appealing to multiple members of the household were referenced (there was even a whisper that daytime TV could start performing in consolidated viewing in some instances).
Although not quite a format (and not quite traditional daytime, as it’s being slated for Saturday afternoons) ITV British wrestling feels like a step in the right direction for repositioning daytime TV. Although it can look a little old-fashioned, the razzmatazz, fun and exuberance of wrestling feels like perfect family fun in natty spandex pattern. It can blur the edges between daytime and prime-time and seems to offer a template for bridging the gap between slot-times, which more content will surely look to emulate in the future.