Lacking reality 

9 July 2009

BBC News: ITV ‘to charge for Talent clips’

At least proving that Michael Grade has either a good sense of humour or a complete lack of perspective, he’s just announced that in order to properly monetise reality TV, plans to charge ‘micropayments’ of around 25p to 50p per view for viewing video clips of Britain’s Got Talent (or similar).

Perhaps Grade is actually living in a different universe, but my definition of ‘micropayment’ is about ten times less than that figure, and much of the power of YouTube comes about through someone viewing a clip free of charge just out of curiosity. And 25p is usually too high a price to pay for curiosity.

If there was, say, 100 million clip views on, with ITV charging a more modest 5p a view, then that could still generate a healthy £1m+ for ITV (some of the money raised would be spent on bandwidth charges and tax). And the audience size is arguably much more important than the revenue raised when it comes to promoting reality TV.

ITV may have performed sums to see what’s viable (and what isn’t), but it will be quite remarkable if a 25 to 50p viewing charge proves to be remotely popular, and it’s no good just having something that makes a profit if it’s very unpopular.

And the next time the circus that’s Britain’s Got Talent hits the airwaves, there may not be an equivalent Susan Boyle that drives web traffic (and clip views) to, plus blocking the upload of clips to YouTube and other video sites will just generate resentment amongst viewers and in turn lessens exposure for your product as well.

Britain may have talent, but it’s not worth 25p!

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