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Hot off the press

Linear TV still packs a punch

Image from ITV

Most of us have been excited to see the phenomenal success of ITV’s “Mr Bates vs the Post Office”. Is this proof that linear TV is still a force to be reckoned with?  

Mr Bates vs The Post Office tells the story of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history. It dramatises the experiences of innocent sub-postmaster and postmistresses wrongly accused of theft due to a faulty IT system.

For over twenty years campaigners have been fighting to have convictions overturned and compensation paid. Despite varying amounts of media attention over this period only a handful of those convicted had been exonerated. Aside from an initial flurry of media attention when the scandal first broke, public engagement was minimal. That all changed when the ITV drama reignited interest on an unprecedented scale.

The return of the “watercooler moment”?

Recently, it has felt like “appointment to view” television might be a thing of the past. However, Mr Bates vs The Post Office has demonstrated that traditional TV still has the power to unify, galvanise and inspire action. Indeed, ITV’s deputy managing director, Simon Dalglish said in Campaign that the show demonstrated that TV is once again “setting the agenda”. The show didn’t just get massive viewing figures (10 million for the series finale). It also achieved widespread coverage on news and current affairs programming, front page headlines in national press and led to parliament rushing through a new law. 

It’s without doubt that the linear broadcast created a “moment”. It does, however, need to be acknowledged that the show’s success is due to a perfect suite of factors working together to create a huge impact. 

The initial broadcast created a massive wave of awareness that disseminated through to other media. This coverage then fed the “on demand” views which in turn meant bigger audiences for the final linear broadcast. The success of the four part drama perfectly illustrates TV’s ability to capture people’s hearts, influence other media and inspire action.

It is heartening to see such a phenomenal success on linear TV. However, it needs to be noted that the shows’ achievements have come about due to the complementary action of streamed TV, not in spite of it. People hearing about the show through other channels and then “catching up” through ITVX’s on demand services enabled momentum to build and build.

Linear TV is still a powerful medium for advertisers

Indeed, this all serves as a rather neat illustration of what we’ve been saying for a long time. Is linear TV still important and relevant? Yes, absolutely. Does that mean it’s somehow superior streaming? Not necessarily. All good media plans rely on diversification and careful planning to be robust and resilient and TV is no exception.  It doesn’t have to be a case of either/or. A good plan will assess and exploit the strengths of all viable options.  

Choosing the most appropriate media channel for the campaign is always at the forefront of our planning. If you’d like to know more about TV advertising click here. If you’re unsure whether linear or streaming is right for your brand and your message, get in touch for some expert, impartial advice.

Image courtesy of ITV