Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Memo to TV: if you've got something to say, spit it out

There was only one "creative" decision taken on The Word podcast. I took it and I'm very proud of it. I decided that we wouldn't have the conventional beginning or ending. Instead it would just fade in on the sound of people talking and end pretty much the same way.

At the time it appealed to us because it meant we didn't have to prepare an intro. Then we found that listeners liked it because it helped bolster the idea that the conversation was continuing in perpetuity. Which, in a sense it was, in the office.

One of the reasons I like podcasts so much is that, unlike conventional radio and TV, they get to the point. This morning I was looking on the iPlayer for something to watch for ten minutes. Everything seemed to begin with a prolonged intro section which was dedicated to suggesting that you were going to see or learn something in the ensuing half an hour which would be worth the sacrifice in terms of time. I wasn't convinced.

I watched a few YouTube clips instead. I find I increasingly do that. I like long-form TV. I like short-form TV. I've got no time for the inbetween kind. That's the kind they make the most of.


  1. I like the way Melvyn Bragg opens episodes of "In Our Time" on Radio 4.

    "Hello...", he blurts hastily, and without catching a breath, he's off and into his stride.

  2. Yes, there's an awful lot of self-trailering in programmes these days, which multiplies on commercial television. Not only do you get the "Coming up..." voiceover at the beginning, followed by clips from the show you're already bloody watching, but then you get the same thing before each break. Returning from each break, we're then informed that "Before the break, this happened", and shown yet more clips we've already seen.

    So in an hour's show (which lasts about 48 minutes), you end up watching maybe 40 minutes of unique content, with some of the clips being repeated about 6 or 7 times. It's time-wasting flannel.

  3. I watch a lot of TV documentaries. Commercial channels have long been that way but BBC Four's getting the same: Three- or four-minute self-trailer at the top with all the best quotes and clips, as if desperate to prove you shouldn't abandon it.

    I can see the point in a live multichannel market, but like a lot I watch most of my TV on timeshift so I can't imagine I would suddenly decide not to bother on the basis of the first two minutes. Considering such usage is massively increasing, perhaps the pendulum will swing back towards considered programming.

    Meanwhile, YouTube are trying to get more like TV, and actively encouraging their "channel" owners to topload; the example they use is show the meal, then show the cookery. No big reveal.