Posts tagged: VOD

Charlie and the Sky Subscription Factory

Do you remember the early scenes of the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film?

Charlie is peering through the window of the local sweet shop, shaking his head in sad disdain at all the smiling, spoilt children inside having sweets thrown all over them. They’re in and he isn’t and he can only catch a glimpse of what’s inside, knowing he’s unlikely to ever afford the privilege of going into the shop with the other children.

Charlie & the chocolate factory

So why am I talking about Charlie?

As part of a new £600m commitment to the Sky Owned portfolio, Sky First Episodes was born on February 1st; a platform which allows users to watch first episodes from Sky on YouTube. Naomi Gibney, Sky director of entertainment, marketing and digital, said: “The combination of Sky First Episodes and a TV campaign featuring entire clips from our biggest and best series means that now everyone has the chance to sample Sky shows.”

Just a taste…

Sky are attempting to utilise the ever-growing VOD space and have extended their content to a new video platform in the hope they will generate more subscribers, just as the sweet shop owner enticed children with his shiny shelves of sweets. It is growing increasingly important in such a media-saturated world that brands are now confident in their platform choices for the mutual benefit of both the company and customers. A brand must now ask: ‘How appropriate is this medium for our business objectives and what will it actually do for us and our customers?’ In other words, how can Sky build long-term relationships between its customers and their content?

Sky’s new service provides first episodes and scene teasers plus behind the scenes footage to non-Sky subscribers via YouTube. What’s the catch? In order to view more episodes, viewers must subscribe to Sky. This brings me back to Charlie, who did indeed desire what the other children had inside the sweet shop. However, no matter how enticing the shop was, it just reminded him of what he didn’t have and couldn’t afford. In other words, if Charlie had been able to afford to go into the sweet shop, it is likely he would have. And we all remember how disappointed Charlie was when he eventually got a chocolate bar but it didn’t hold the golden ticket. His hopes were raised, his anticipation built but then he was let down by not being able to continue his chocolate journey without having to purchase further.


Outside of providing first episodes and behind the scenes footage, Sky’s new service seems to be lacking a real reason for customers to continue their journey. Ultimately, the key to Sky’s advantage over competitor platforms is the ownership of experience opportunities for consumers. This is something which is growing increasingly important in a world bored of materialism, hence the popularity of Twitter and Facebook where consumers can share their experiences and discuss their excitement. OTT platforms such as Netflix have also hit the nail on the head by providing exclusive, exciting content available only to subscribers and which gets people talking. At the end of January this year, they passed the 44 million user mark, and have stated: “It's been a good year for Netflix. People around the world want what we offer: consumer-in-control internet television.”

Instead of simply providing an outlet to view programming, Sky need to create noise and excitement around their content; get customers talking and sharing; start creating and joining conversations; tap into the ‘content experience’ and begin adding an extra value dimension to their offerings, perhaps creating media events around their programmes. So take note Sky, it’s time to open those sweet shop doors and offer more than a penny sweet sample and a window view. 

Written by Jessica Venner from Total Media

Jess works as part of the TV team and loves strategy, customer/client relationship-building and a half-hourly snack or two.

Screen Life: TV in demand

The psychology behind emerging TV behaviours and what it means for media planners.

Thinkbox, the marketing body for all forms of commercial TV in the UK, recently visited Total Media HQ to deliver their latest round of research. The study looks at emerging TV behaviours using new techniques to get real, unbiased results on viewing behaviour.  Thinkbox’s research revealed how and why audiences choose between watching TV and video on demand (VOD).

6 reasons why we watch VOD

The research revealed audiences typically indulged in six different need states in live TV viewing:

  • Unwind: to defer life’s chores or de-stress from the pressures of the day
  • Comfort: shared family time; togetherness, rituals, familiarity and routine
  • Connect: a sense of ‘plugging in – to feel a sense of connection to society, to time or to place
  • Experience: usually revolves around a need for fun and a sense of occasion to be shared 
  • Escape: the desire to be taken on an enjoyable journey to another time and place
  • Indulge: satisfying (typically guilty) pleasures with personal favourites, usually consumed alone

The research also displayed clear differences in the need states and media consumption for differing age groups. For example, 18-24s spend almost twice as much time in the Connect need state as 35-55s (28% v 15% respectively). 

live tv

Overall the research found that individual TV platforms meet different audience needs. Live TV is the best equipped to meet all of the established need states – which goes someway to explaining why live TV is usually the starting point for most viewers. This is true even among audiences who regularly watch VOD – 60% of audiences first looked at the schedule for live TV before checking out anything else. 

VOD and planner TV are also closely affiliated in terms of audience needs and both forms of TV excel at serving our need for Escape.

How does this affect media planning and buying?

The research highlighted that advertising works differently accordingly to a person’s need states – advertising will be more accepted and welcomed in certain need states such as Connect and Unwind,  than others like Escape and Indulge.

In context-based need states like Unwind, Comfort, Connect and Experience, advertising has a higher level of acceptance due to the sociality factor.

In content-based need states such as Indulge, Escape and Experience, the audience displays high levels of attention because they have personally chosen to watch that particular media content, therefore any advertising has to work extremely hard to be attractive to the viewer.

As Thinkbox points out, advertisers need to match need states with categories, tones and narratives. By following these basic rules, any media placed should deliver better results for brands.

Four Thinkbox Takeaways for VOD advertising

Need states: Plan your media against your anticipated audience’s viewing need state. For example, if you’re using VOD, the best form of advertising is biased towards Escape and Indulge need states. These need states are a natural fit with brands in categories such as travel, fashion, beauty and treat foods.

Get Mobile: Increasingly, research has found that VOD is consumed on smaller, portable screens and more often than not, outside of the home. This provides advertisers with the opportunity for location specific messages for interactive ad content.

Be personable: Audiences watching VOD are much more likely to watching alone and the content chosen, more personal. This is the apt moment to distribute personalised and addressable advertising. Segmentation can be based on 1st party data, brand data, public data and much more in order to customise your ad.

Reaction, interaction and transaction: Clickable ads are a huge opportunity, and VOD ads are no different. Use this as an chance to empower your viewing audience with interactive offers such as “choose your own ad format”, or exploit the need states such as Indulge and Escape by advertising holiday destinations or creating interactive play along media games.

For more information about Thinkbox’s research please contact Neil Mortensen:



Emma Jeffers Written by Emma Jeffers from Total Media

Emma is our PR and Social Media Manager at Total and loves all things media, especially social media, and classes herself as a massive geek (her words not ours!).

TV on Demand: The Death of the TV Guide?

Television as a medium has rapidly changed. Channel 4 launched in 1982, 1 month after I was born at which point it was only the fourth TV channel available to UK viewers. Now 29 years later, with TV having evolved probably faster than any other medium, viewers can now choose from over 500 channels, each one trying to tap into a niche audience.

The way we view TV has changed too. We can now watch in full HD and 3D, we can pause live TV, we can record without video tapes, and by clicking TV Guide on the ol’ remote your entire TV schedule is available to you. It would appear that 2011 TV viewing is the best it has ever been.

Though possibly the biggest evolution of the last few years has been the increase in VOD services, PVRs and Catch up TV. These new-fangled devices were predicted to spell doom for the old tradition of the family sitting down in front of the TV to watch their favourite show together, though research carried out by Television trade body Thinkbox shows that in fact people are watching more TV than ever!

Whether it is via one of the many on demand services accessed on the web, like BBC iPlayer, ITV player or via a set top box like the freshly launched Sky Anytime+, viewers can now catch up on their favourite TV shows at the press of a button or the click of a mouse or even via their games console. With such opportunities, one might think “That’s it, burn the Radio Times; I can make my own schedule, watch whatever I want whenever I want”.

But TV is such an emotive medium and people are creatures of habit, they like the comfort of knowing that Tuesday is Undercover Boss night, Wednesday is Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance night, on Sunday they can settle down with Law and Order UK. People often plan their week around TV, and it’s the way it has been for 50 years; it’s part of family life and it plays a massive part in our working and social life.

How familiar is this scenario: Walk into the office, “Morning, how was your evening? Did you watch…?” It’s the classic water cooler moment, and it’s this talkability, combined with VOD, that is driving people back to live TV.

From my own personal experience, I can testify to how VOD has driven me back to live TV viewing, having missed the first episode of the Inbetweeners I arrived into work the next day to find people raving about this “new comedy on E4” so much so that in my lunch hour I settled down with a Boots meal deal, logged on to 4OD and chuckled away. Subsequently I watched every single episode live so that I didn’t miss out on the water cooler moment the next time round. 

This behaviour is of course enforced by new technology. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook combined with new technology e.g. Smartphones and Tablets mean that information is at our fingertips at all times. Recent research suggests that 44% of viewers have used social network sites whilst watching TV and 37% have chatted online about TV content. How many of you reading this have recorded an episode of The X-Factor with the idea of settling down later that night to watch the results, only to go on Facebook for the briefest of seconds and discover that Jedward have been voted off? Social Media is the new ‘instant’ water cooler, and if you want to be part of it you need to be watching, there and then, live, as it happens, because nowadays by the time you get to the actual water cooler, Jedward’s demise would be old news.

I believe that video on demand presents some fantastic opportunities for viewers and advertisers alike. The various catch up services means viewers need never miss a moment of their favourite shows and advertisers can add an extra element to their campaigns. This is how I feel it should be considered, as an extra element to provide incremental coverage, not as a substitute to TV.

Currently VOD accounts for 2% of ‘Television’ viewing (source: BARB/IPA Touchpoints) and it provides fantastic support to the box in the corner. But will this always be the case? Will it always be just a support, primarily used to catch-up? Or will VOD replace the traditional live viewing habits?

I’m a big user of VOD, I think it’s a great service, but there is no disputing that like many other viewers, it has driven me back to live viewing. For this reason, combined with my desire to be a part of the Social Media water cooler moment, I believe the schedule is here to stay. I won’t be ripping up my Radio Times just yet.

But this is just my opinion, do you agree? How much TV do you watch ‘live’? Is the schedule here to stay?

Written by Sam Olive

TV Blog June 2011 - June TV Highlights

It’s summer, the sun is high, the smell of freshly cut grass and BBQs fills the air, tanned bodies lace the parks and the clink of Pimms glasses can be heard for miles around!

Who wouldn’t want to be outside enjoying this weather, whack on some factor 20, put a knotted hanky on your bonce and get outside, OR NOT!!!! To tempt you in from the sunshine, TV stations are breaking out some big guns and below are a selection of the tan-hindering programmes on offer:

PromzillasSky Living


Think Super Sweet 16 meets My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.  The prom: the biggest night of any American teens life, or so it used to be.  This American tradition is now sweeping the UK and with it come all of the same problems and considerations; the date, the make-up, the transport and most importantly the dress.  In this show stylist Brix Smith-Start, Celebrity Hairdresser Stephen Glendinning and Katie Price’s make-up artist Gary Cockerill (who randomly used to be a coal miner – fact) give some teens in need of a confidence boost a complete makeover in the hope of becoming Prom King & Queen.

European Under 21 ChampionshipsSky Sports

European Under 21 Championships

It’s over… finished no more… how will I cope… 3 whole months 3!!! No World Cup. No Euros… God I hate the off-season! But fear not! There is a light at the end of the dark football-summertime tunnel, and it comes in the shape of the bright young stars of the future, the England under 21’s.  The under 21 European championship is a great opportunity to scope out potential candidates to break into the full squad for next year’s European Championships.

CamelotChannel 4


Hot on the heels of Sky Atlantic’s huge success ‘Game of Thrones’ is Channel 4’s new medieval drama Camelot with an all-star cast to challenge that of it’s Sky Atlantic rival, with Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green. Based on Thomas Malory’s 15th Century book, this is a new and contemporary look at the legendary tales.

Product Placement

The ban on Product Placement in the UK has been lifted and advertisers can now promote their products in dramas, documentaries, soaps, entertainment and sport shows.

There are still restrictions in place to look after the members of the public, which is why the placement of gambling, alcohol, tobacco, junk food, medicine and baby milk is banned.  Alongside this, product placement within children's television programmes, news shows and religious programmes is not allowed.

The first advertiser to take advantage and benefit from the new rules on paid for product placements was Nescafe Dolce Gusto.  The coffee maker appeared in the background during a cookery feature on ITV's This Morning in February.  Since then further announcements of product placement deals have been few. TRESemme have signed up with Sky’s Next Top Model and New Look with T4’s new Fashion Show. 

Other developments include the production of Big Brother, which has just been bought by Channel 5. Discussions as to how they can take advantage of the relaxed ruling are taking place. Potentially everything in the house could be product placement, from the food shopping, to the kitchen, right down to the garden furniture.  The possibilities are endless but the legalities are enormous.  How do you put a price on it? How is this measured?

Channel 4 are currently asking for advertisers to register their interest in a number of opportunities on Hollyoaks; and specifically Fashion, Technology & Mobile, Health & Beauty, Retail Finance, Coffee Retail, Film and Music Events. They are being very prescriptive about what products they require within the show and unfortunately it’s not working the other way round where an advertiser outside of these categories can go to them with an offer.

So, why so few takers when it has taken so long to happen? Many thought advertisers would be falling over themselves to advertise….

  • Product placement can only take place within a British produced show. This means that there are limited opportunities across channels such as Channel 4 and 5 who rely heavily on imports to make up their content.
  • Many of the products that drive product placement in the US and Australia are prohibited over here by Ofcom ruling i.e. all foods that are either high in salt, sugar or fat (HFSS).
  • The lead times required can make the process unappealing and complex.
  • Advertisers are worried that they may face a backlash from the public if they get it wrong.
  • Brands must not be given undue prominence and must be editorially justified.
  • Programmes have to broadcast the P logo for 3 seconds at the start and end of each programme which have been paid to feature products.
  • Channels must also run information films explaining the introduction of product placement and what the logo means.
  • There has to be "editorial justification" for a product to be placed in a programme. The product must be relevant and the content should not be changed just to feature the placed product.

However, there are a number of strong selling points of product placement, as follows:

  • Cost effectiveness
  • The ability to reach a mass audience
  • Brand awareness
  • Power of association to increase brand affinity

In the future will product placement become the ordinary and the P logo no longer required?

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