Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hidden Art of Web Media and TV

In days to come Channel 4 commences its mammoth coverage of the `London 2012 ParaOlympics. They've already stated to Broadcast they're clearing their schedules, amounting to a 400% coverage with the games from last time.

As a broadcaster Channel 4 must be licking its lips. For once the audience has shown an appetite for sports and believe me, to them that's never been the case.

In 2001, I went to a producer with a brief for a programme about a teen aged racing car driver who was being feted for stardom. No one took a second look. His name was Ian Hamilton, and a good friend of mine was one of Hamilton senior's friend. And I'm not alone, traditionally the networks will tell you sports programmes don't sell.

Live Sports however is a different kettle of fish, but Channel 4 has reason to be nervous. Unlike the juggernaut power of the BBC, it has one channel and therefore will have to look for new strategies to sate the viewer's appetite.

It's already pitched its tent cleverly well, with the below promo and its proclamation of "Superhumans" to the rousings of Public Enemy.  For the BBC it was Muse (above) - another titan that wooed.

In broadcast speech words such as tent-polling, hammocking an stunting - used by American networks are all programming strategies designed to keep the users glued.

For the BBC tent-polling presentations around the games meant the super appropriate presentation team e.g. John Inverdale and co, took the evening slot, and saw you through to midnight and beyond. Remember the hysterical jumping up and down by Jackson, Lewis and Johnson making it onto the news. They did not disappoint.

You could further atomise the broadcast itself, where in between the drama of human cinema, the BBC hammocked all sorts of things. My favourites and perhaps yours as well, were those promos such as Muses.

The symphony of song and human endeavour was almost enough to convince me, I should go and buy running shoes and aspire for Rio 2016. Er, in my dreams.

Note to that as soon as they finished on track, there was a team to capture the yet-to-subside andrenalin interview. Only a few walked away from those interviews not understanding, irrespective of how they felt, this was their one shot. Bless Mo Farah, for getting in the name of his foundation.

So Channel 4 will have its work cut out for it in creating its programme strategy, which while it will be convinced of the BBCs style will obviously want to create its own branded ID. But watch, having already shown the power of the promo, we're bound to see some more.

Such was the implicit emphasis on this cinema reality, did you notice that ever so often when they cut back to a race, or event it was in slow mo. We, viewers, as Hollywood has proved love the art of the gaze.

But how does this all affect the hidden art of web and media TV?

Arguably, BBC and C4s site are in good shape. We've come to realise that theoreticians and their musings about design cannot be divorced from the power of TV, mag designs and what has influenced generations.

But we not quite there yet. Volume as the Daily Mail has shown wins eyeballs, but when you don't have an army of on liners and the resources, what do you do?

In his text on digi-textualities John Caldwell provides some stepping stones, which I'll summarise and share in my next post.