Christmas ratings

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Brock
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Christmas ratings

Post by Brock »

Is there really a "Christmas ratings battle"? I was surprised to learn recently that US broadcasters don't make a big thing of Christmas at all. I suppose from a commercial point of view, there's very little in it; advertising time is obviously much more valuable in the run-up to Christmas than on Christmas Day itself, so that the commercial broadcasters tend to put on their biggest ratings-pullers before Christmas.

I've just heard that the BBC has won (on the overnight figures) this year, but they nearly always seem to. Is the so-called "battle" hyped up by the BBC so that they can announce that they've won it? Presumably, the BBC would see it as a weak point in the commercial channels' schedules and deliberately target it. Even back in the 70s, when the BBC consistently lagged behind ITV in the ratings, they always seemed to have more viewers at Christmas.

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Doom Patrol
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Doom Patrol »

I think you've probably put your finger on it already. Historically it's possibly because we have a commercial station competing with a non commercial one. In the past ITV haven't even tried to compete and maybe that's due to commercial considerations. I think they've been bounced into it by an unfettered BBC with a guaranteed source of income. That and the advent of soaps on Christmas Day which have got to be bigger for them.

Cole
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Cole »

Brock wrote:Is there really a "Christmas ratings battle"? I was surprised to learn recently that US broadcasters don't make a big thing of Christmas at all. I suppose from a commercial point of view, there's very little in it; advertising time is obviously much more valuable in the run-up to Christmas than on Christmas Day itself, so that the commercial broadcasters tend to put on their biggest ratings-pullers before Christmas.

I've just heard that the BBC has won (on the overnight figures) this year, but they nearly always seem to. Is the so-called "battle" hyped up by the BBC so that they can announce that they've won it? Presumably, the BBC would see it as a weak point in the commercial channels' schedules and deliberately target it. Even back in the 70s, when the BBC consistently lagged behind ITV in the ratings, they always seemed to have more viewers at Christmas.
I tend to disagree because all of the big hitting programmes tend to be soaps these days. The top two are Eastenders and Coronation Street, this year. ITV's reliance on that street seems to have the 'stars' of that programme popping up in a lot of their others. This seems to indicate that they're targeting the same audience over and over because it's a trusted one.

As for the other big-guns, the only missing shows were the X-Factor and I'm a Celebrity; which of course were on during the run up to Christmas because of better advertising.

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Mickey
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Mickey »

ITV used to try, surely. A big movie premiere on Christmas Day would have guaranteed a good bit of advertising revenue. That's not such big news nowadays though of course. How often do they show a big movie now that nobody has seen! They don't seem to go for that family audience at all now. A big movie would have that covered, as it would likely have been a reasonably family-friendly adventure of some kind. Now it's just soaps for them in the early evening. The BBC has "Doctor Who", and the dancing thing seems big too, so they're the ones targetting the families. That's bound to lead to a bigger audience.

Clive
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Clive »

I had thought that ITV had a chance this year, what with Corrie and Downton Abbey being fielded, ironically the only Christmas TV my family watched this year. The BBC schedule seemed to be a little wanting this year and has not really offered anything different or original for the past few years.

We missed DW as it was on earlier this year, before all the family festivities were over (playing the new Xbox games with nephews) so I can perhaps understand why the figures for that we're a little down for the first broadcast, it'll be interesting when the iPlayer figures are included.

tiswas2
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by tiswas2 »

How do they record the ratings these days?

At one time they had the internal boxes recording sets viewing and use that as a sample and upscale it as a typical viewers habits, but now there are so many methods of viewing - Sky, Freeview, Free Sat, online, Catchup, +1

Is there a formula or source that the broadcasters agree produces relatively trusted figures ?

Brock
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Brock »

BARB has provided the broadcast ratings for decades, but I don't know their methodology.

I'm just listening to Radio 4's "The Media Show" and the representative from ITV has confirmed that there's no money in Christmas. The only reason for competing with the BBC is for publicity purposes.

Richardr1
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Richardr1 »

Mickey wrote:ITV used to try, surely. A big movie premiere on Christmas Day would have guaranteed a good bit of advertising revenue. That's not such big news nowadays though of course. How often do they show a big movie now that nobody has seen!
Two points on that. Firstly, the same movie would get higher advertising revenue in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The second, and probably as important, is that there are no movies available to iTV that nobody has seen. In the pre Video, DVD, Sky Movies, PPV,, Netflix, Lovefilm, etc., era, a film on terrestrial TV hadn't been seen by many people, and even those who had seen it hadn't had the chance to see it for at least a couple of years. Now those interested will have seen the film in one of a multitude of other ways.

Christmas is one of the few times that the whole family of various generations sit down together, and in my experience, that means programmes watched by the older generation do better. In recent years though, the effect of PVRs and catch-up services (which count for 7 days) mean that the final ratings are somewhat different, as the younger generation record their programmes and watch them later.

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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by GarethR »

tiswas2 wrote:How do they record the ratings these days?
The same way, the box connected to the telly. AIUI it can handle metering live viewing on all the various platforms.

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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Mike S »

I always think Australia has the right idea - they essentially cancel radio and television in December and January. It all starts up again in February. Christmas is where you get stand-ins and filler, hence the Kate Middleton prank call.

'Christmas TV' does seem to be a strangely British thing.

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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Mark »

Mike S wrote:I always think Australia has the right idea - they essentially cancel radio and television in December and January. It all starts up again in February. Christmas is where you get stand-ins and filler, hence the Kate Middleton prank call.

'Christmas TV' does seem to be a strangely British thing.
That's because they are all on the beach having a 'barbie' ( not the doll.!) rather than watching telly.

I thought ITV had given up all together, this year....on the big day that is.
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RobinCarmody
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by RobinCarmody »

Mike S wrote:'Christmas TV' does seem to be a strangely British thing.
Yes, though you get all sorts of recurring Christmas TV rituals in Europe - like how the 1958 Disney special From All of Us to All of You is, to this day, an institution in Scandinavia. In non-Anglosphere cultures Christmas seems (although this might just be the Anglophone's natural romanticisation) to have remained more of a genuine folk festival and less of an advertising bonanza, but there are reassuring things on TV just like Morecambe & Wise repeats over here. But I don't think Australia is the most natural comparison because of the obvious difference in climate - nobody would watch TV here at Christmas if it were a.) during the summer, and b.) our summers were always hot.

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Ross
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Ross »

Mike S wrote:I always think Australia has the right idea - they essentially cancel radio and television in December and January. It all starts up again in February. Christmas is where you get stand-ins and filler, hence the Kate Middleton prank call.


Our telly effectively shuts down for the two summer months, filling the air with repeats and old films, so nothing odd about that.
'Christmas TV' does seem to be a strangely British thing.
They have Christmas specials in Germany: big family serials like Silas, Jack Holborn and Patrik Pacard, although these were cut for budgetary reasons in 1996. They still have big musical spectaculars, both popular and classical, as well as the annual ritual of the Freddie Frinton sketch.

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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Brock »

Ross wrote: They have Christmas specials in Germany: big family serials like Silas, Jack Holborn and Patrik Pacard, although these were cut for budgetary reasons in 1996. They still have big musical spectaculars, both popular and classical, as well as the annual ritual of the Freddie Frinton sketch.
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Ross
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Ross »

Well, yes, but that's all part of the festive season.

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Scary
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Scary »

Brock wrote:Is there really a "Christmas ratings battle"? I was surprised to learn recently that US broadcasters don't make a big thing of Christmas at all.
I'm pretty sure that's because they make more of an effort with Thanksgiving, which seems to be the more important holiday there, at least in TV terms.

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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Brock »

Scary wrote:
Brock wrote:Is there really a "Christmas ratings battle"? I was surprised to learn recently that US broadcasters don't make a big thing of Christmas at all.
I'm pretty sure that's because they make more of an effort with Thanksgiving, which seems to be the more important holiday there, at least in TV terms.
And that's presumably because people traditionally start their Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving (so-called "Black Friday"). It's all driven by the considerations of advertisers.

If the US had a major network with no advertisers, I suspect they'd target Christmas in the same way as the BBC does. It'd be a walk-over.

marsey
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by marsey »

What difference shoul;d it make to the BBC anyway whether they 'win' or lose'. Surely if people are happy with their output , then whether they get half a million more viewers than an 'opposition' should be neither here nor there. Equally it shpuld surely be far more important for the channels that sell advertising to compete with other channels that sell advertising than with one that doesn't. Or is it more of an ego thing than a business thing?

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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by GarethR »

Brock wrote: And that's presumably because people traditionally start their Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving (so-called "Black Friday"). It's all driven by the considerations of advertisers.

If the US had a major network with no advertisers, I suspect they'd target Christmas in the same way as the BBC does. It'd be a walk-over.
I wouldn't bet on it. There's a major cultural difference in perception of Christmas in the UK compared to the USA.

Despite the US being a more actively churchgoing nation than the UK, Christmas in the US isn't as big a holiday as it is in the UK, and it's nothing to do with advertising considerations. Thanksgiving is by some distance the more important holiday in national terms (and has been since well before TV advertising), and coming as it does so close to December 25th, it steals a lot of Christmas's thunder. Thanksgiving lunch, for example, easily shades Christmas lunch in the States - the former is where you have your massive turkey meal blowout.

Thanksgiving is a four-day weekend. Officially Christmas Day is a one-day holiday, but for many in the USA, it's only a half-day at best, with everything back to business as usual after about noon.

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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Alice80 »

Well, this is the year that we- no, I really (hubby is non-tech outside of his Xbox) - discovered that we could record 2 things at once on the Humax Freesat box we've had for a couple of years now, so we won't be adding to ratings at all now... we certainly will be making use of that feature in future...

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Bob Richardson
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Bob Richardson »

Richardr1 wrote:
Mickey wrote:ITV used to try, surely. A big movie premiere on Christmas Day would have guaranteed a good bit of advertising revenue. That's not such big news nowadays though of course. How often do they show a big movie now that nobody has seen!
There are no movies available to iTV that nobody has seen. In the pre Video, DVD, Sky Movies, PPV,, Netflix, Lovefilm, etc., era, a film on terrestrial TV hadn't been seen by many people, and even those who had seen it hadn't had the chance to see it for at least a couple of years. Now those interested will have seen the film in one of a multitude of other ways.
I dumped Sky several years ago because I found that I watched very few movies on satellite (if any) and the only thing I was consistently tuning in to Sky One for was new episodes of The Simpsons.

I buy films on DVD but NEVER when they are first released (and the same with new Dr Who DVDs). The prices often drop after a terrestrial TV screening. I'm probably in a minority, but I see many films for the first time when they are screened on terrestrial TV. If they're on the BBC I record them and burn them to DVD. If it's an ITV screening I still record it and if I particularly enjoy it I'll buy the commercial DVD release when the price drops. Am I unique?
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by GarethR »

Bob Richardson wrote:I'm probably in a minority, but I see many films for the first time when they are screened on terrestrial TV. If they're on the BBC I record them and burn them to DVD. If it's an ITV screening I still record it and if I particularly enjoy it I'll buy the commercial DVD release when the price drops. Am I unique?
No idea about unique, but I have no real interest in watching films on broadcast TV because anything 2.35:1 will usually be zoomed to lose the letterbox bars (and a fair bit from the sides of the image too). I've also become a bit more of a purist in regards to playback speed; I now tend to prefer watching films at their correct theatrical speed rather than 25fps. The pitch difference never used to bother me, but the 4% speedup sounds too high-pitched now. I think I've been spoiled by 23.976fps Blu-rays. In the past, retaining the correct pitch meant going NTSC, with the inevitable slight tradeoff in image quality.

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Tim D
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Re: Christmas ratings

Post by Tim D »

I found I didn't watch any live television over Christmas. I just dipped into the iPlayer for Slade Night, Bowie at the BBC, the Jeff Lynne documentary, The Richest Songs and Blackpool Nights. That was Christmas done for me and thoroughly enjoyable it was too. Since the advent of internet television, I've found I rarely ever watch anything at the same time as the rest of the nation. I even get my sitcoms from Netflix. Give it another 10 years and I think the traditional concept of broadcasting will be a memory of days gone by.

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