Monday, 31 December 2007

Predictions for Twenty-Oh-Eight

It's that awkward time on New Year's Eve between getting up and starting to drink, so in order to fill time in- er, discuss the future with my marvellous blogspotteers, here are some random predictions for the year ahead.

IT'S LIKE MASTERCHEF CROSSED WITH BOB'S FULL HOUSE...
Look at the lists of 'new' shows coming up this year and you can't help but stifle a yawn. None of them seem actually new at all, just bits of one format shoehorned into another one. I foresee this continuing onwards, mainly due to the poor commissioning editors, under massive pressure from above for 'new', a huge onus from the finance people to get ratings, and desperately pitched any old combination of tat from the producers.

TV IS CRIMINAL NOWADAYS...
There have got to be some charges somewhere against the people who stole millions of pounds from viewers entering competitions. Just giving the money back to people who bother to go through a tortuous process to find out if they're owed anything - well, that's not on. (I do know the channels are giving the rest of the money to charity - but, and it's a huge but, not every show ever has been investigated)

Can you imagine, say, if the Richard and Judy telephone line company had hijacked a security van and nicked the same amount of money - giving it back ain't good enough. It's theft, pure and simple, and someone needs to pay.

PEOPLE WATCHING TV ON EVERYTHING BUT A TV
I watch South Park on my iPod Touch in the gym, exercising on a crosstrainer. It's the only way to make my flitty brain do something as boring as that for 22 minutes. I can manage 10 minutes or so listening to music, so it's increasing my exercise levels hugely. It costs me £1.89 to download each ep from iTunes, but the gym costs £100 a month so, in proportion it's not too bad. My only worry is that no-one is putting much else I want to see on UK iTunes so once the little Southparkians are used up, I'll have to go onto, er, other such sites to get content to watch. Public domain, obviously. Ahem.

Anyhow, this can only continue, and telly ratings will, on an average show, fall yet again. But...

SQUEEZED AT THE MIDDLE
I think ratings for flagship shows, like the soaps and Doctor Who and the like will stay the same or actually rise (like they did this Christmas), and ratings for cheap, exploitative crud with stupid titles (see almost every entry in this blog) will continue to do well (due to more people going digital as well as more people actually choosing to watch Fat Pet Autopsy Live!)

It's the middle that'll be affected the most, those nice shows that do OK, well-produced, well-made and reasonably budgeted. There's no place for them any more. This is happening in every market, not just TV. Supermarkets: Waitrose, M&S at the top end; Asda, Tesco, Morrisons at the cheap end, only Sainsbury's inbetween. The BMW 3 series sells more than the Ford Mondeo. And clothes either seem to be designer posh £100-a-shirt or Tesco cheap £2 T-shirts. TV will be the same.

CHANNEL-BY-CHANNEL

BBC One
New controller but not much change there I think, just the occasional tweak and more repeats as the not-as-massive-an-increase-as-they-asked-for-not-really-a-cut licence fee settlement kicks in.

BBC Two
Can they run Top Gear all year round - as they probably can't, I'd think Two will end up with more BBC Four content on it. So it'll look like it did ten years ago but at a lower budget. Sigh.

BBC Three
They need a breakout hit, something to justify the £95m spent per annum. Some nichey comedy like Gavin and Stacey and Mighty Boosh really hit the target audience but is it enough?

BBC Four
The series of biopic dramas they've announced are perfect for the channel - mixed with their great factual stuff, it'll still be one of my first calls of an evening. Can they please sort out weekends though? It's shit then.

ITV1,2,3,4,5,6,7 etc.
Er, um, mmm. Well. So they're doing this trendy comedy show about a soap opera being made - then showing the soap itself on ITV2? Full marks for trying but even if it works it's a one-shot proposition. I applaud ITV's efforts at not just being the Corrie-Heartbeart-This Morning big brand, big bland network, but someone, somewhere will have to decide what ITV1 is actually for. It's simply not clear at the moment.

C4, E4, More4
So they got in the papers by "scrapping" Celeb BB. Er, no, they haven't. They've reformatted it and stuck it on E4 only. With a launch show on C4 anyway. At least C4 is being blunt about wondering what it's there for, saying they'll need money to do public service stuff. Good on 'em. Who decides what's public service programming and what isn't, and where the money comes from are the presently unanswerable questions. More IT Crowd is my one personal request. Yay them!

Sky
Sky One is the only channel outside of the above ones with a reasonable budget and commissioning ambition, yet it seems to have got stuck into making specials, one-off dramas, documentaries with Grant Mitchell in 'em, and gameshows with Noel Edmonds. They then spend the rest on (admittedly great) acquisitions. It's probably the wisest course of action - all acquisitions would look weak; all commissions would be incredibly risky... but, still, I hope Sky manages to get a show that really catches on, like their Uncovered... series did in the Nineties.

Oh, and has someone run the numbers about replacing Sky One with an on-demand Simpsons channel? It'd probably rate higher.

Dave
I single Dave out as it's a great name and has done well. It's still the same shows as UKTVG2 but with a new brand, a big campaign, a Freeview slot and better scheduling. They said they're going to spend some money on original programming, and I hope they do.

Everything else
Even as the number of channels go up, my viewing patterns at least stay either the same or concentrated on even fewer stations. I don't watch Living since they got rid of Will and Grace, my guily pleasure with the papers on a weekend afternoon. I watch Dave for BBC repeats. One night I even watched a QI on BBC Two, then next week's edition on BBC Four, then an old one on Dave. How's that for modernity?

I love documentaries but can never find anything I want to watch on the Discovery or UKTV channels. I really like good classy US sitcoms but apart from the odd ep of Frasier Paramount's channels leave me cold. I watch Cheaters on RealityTV but that's just my inner sickness manifesting itself. I've even currently got the movie channels for nowt (Sky try it every so often; I cancel instantly when the free offer ends) and I can't see a film I want to see on them.

The research says this isn't just me being grumpy, it's almost everyone. My only addition to what I watch is CurrentTV for the odd snippet of earnestness and whatever channel it is that shows Letterman now.

So I think consolidation of channels, again with the middle squeezed out, is likely.

OK, I'm off. It's now just about acceptable to start drinking as it's (a) dark; (b) cold; and (c) the last night before normality returns. Happy New Year to you out there in Blogland, and I leave you with a random fact to entertain party guests tonight. Gerbils are illegal in California.

Toodlebye.

1 comment:

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