Amanda Andrews on Media: Web TV's Snack Attack

Marketing, October 28, 2009 | Go to article overview

Amanda Andrews on Media: Web TV's Snack Attack


Broadcasters must find an appetite for the benefits of creating bite-sized content for online viewing.

Personally, I can think of nothing less relaxing than sitting in front of a computer to get my daily TV fix, after a day staring at one in the office. However, as much as I would like to think I am down with the kids, I'm not part of 'Generation Y'.

It is no secret that the youth market - that is, teenagers and 20-somethings - consumes entertainment in a very different way from older people. For example, one sixth of the viewing figures for the third series of teen drama Skins earlier this year came via the web When online soap Sofia's Diary debuted in March 2008 on social network Bebo, it attracted 5m viewers in its first two weeks - mainly young people of course.

The success of Sofia's Diary prompted other programme makers to produce shows using the same 'snack TV' format to attract a youthful audience wanting a daily dose of drama in 10-15 minute bites. KateModern drew 2m viewers on Bebo for its first series.

While social networks have embraced the snack TV format, more traditional broadcasters have been slower on the uptake. As a result they have missed an opportunity to provide a lower-cost but attractive alternative for advertisers.

The EastEnders online spin-off, EastEnders: E20, which the BBC revealed last week, will be closely watched by rivals. The show follows the lives of four new characters who move into Albert Square and will feature cameos from the soap's stars, including Lacey Turner, who plays Stacey Slater. This is a clever move, because it will attract a new set of young viewers to the main show.

ITV has yet to attempt any standalone dramas or spin-off soaps online. However, to its credit, the broadcaster has created exclusive programming for its Coronation Street website. One example, Street Talk, is a series fronted by a celebrity fan that features interviews with cast members, exclusive news stories, on-set gossip and sneak previews of future storylines.

Channel 4 has made online spin-offs, including some Skins 'webisodes' and a Hollyoaks drama, The Morning After the Night Before, that played exclusively online throughout July 2009. This received more than 650,000 views on e4.com, and a further 300,000 on YouTube.

While commercial broadcasters drag their feet, Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of media magnate Rupert Murdoch and founder of production group Shine, has seen the potential. She announced last month that she has joined forces with Joanna Shields, the former chief executive of Bebo, to form a company that will combine television production and social media. …

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