Magazine article Marketing

ANALYSIS: Why 'Junk TV' Is an Irresistable Opportunity

Magazine article Marketing

ANALYSIS: Why 'Junk TV' Is an Irresistable Opportunity

Article excerpt

TV shows such as Popstars and Big Brother are defying the odds and climbing the ratings, writes John Owen.

You could call it 'junk TV'. You know it's the stuff that all the high-minded experts insist is bad for you, but you just can't resist.

Critics have been lining up to slate ITV's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here - just as they did with Big Brother 3. Apparently, it's unwholesome fare that demeans the viewer. But,while such an elite group would never admit it, the truth is that the 10.5 million people who watched the final episode of I'm A Celebrity can't all be wrong.

The appeal isn't just big, it's also growing. On ITV, this year's Pop Idol was watched by 29% more than last year's Popstars. In the two years since Channel 4's Big Brother launched, audiences have grown on average by 44%. Final show voting was also up 10% this year on 2000.

Like Canute, you can try to turn back the tide, but you'd be wasting your time. People love junk TV. Which means there's going to be a lot more of it.

Instead of agonising over whether it's healthy or not, advertisers would surely be better advised to work out what makes it a success. What are the key ingredients that make it so engaging? What is the value of such programming to brands? And what are the wider lessons for brand communication?

First, though, let's be clear what 'it' is. 'Junk TV' is interactive reality game shows. Docusoaps have been around for years. What makes junk TV so compulsive is the interactive element - the viewer gets to influence the outcome - and the fact that it's a game show - where participants are competing with each other. …

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