It’s been a long time since there were only four TV channels to watch – in both the US and the UK. Cable, satellite, digital, the Internet, mobile phones and other platforms have all begun to offer us new TV channels.
The new channels are different, though. While BBC1, BBC2, NBC, CBS et al were all pretty much generalist channels, offering something for everyone (in theory), the new channel have all tended towards specialisation: MTV, The History Channel, Showtime, etc, have all had to brand themselves and pick a particular niche in an effort to get a loyal audience. Sometimes that’s a subject, such as history, music or drama; sometimes, it’s a demographic, such as young people, women, men, posh people, chavs, etc.
The reason they need a loyal audience is that they need people to watch more than just one programme. It’s all very well having a great show like Dexter or The Wire, but if ultimately that’s all your viewers are watching, you’re going to go out of business. You need them to start watching your other shows as well, because they think they might be similarly interesting.
So it’s all about branding. Look at Dave. That used to be UKTV G2. Yes, a channel dedicated to all the stuff UKTV Gold didn’t want any more. Fancy watching it? Didn’t think so.
Yet, simply by renaming itself Dave (and, admittedly, moving to Freeview from just Sky), it’s now the 10th most watched channel in the UK. Same programmes as before. It’s just called Dave, the home of witty banter. Fancy some witty banter that’ll make you laugh? Thought so.
What’s your favourite TV channel?
So today’s question, assuming you’re all still out there, is what’s your favourite TV channel and why? Is it because of the programming? Is it because it feels like your sort of channel (do you consider yourself a Living woman, for example, addicted to makeover shows, crime and psychics?) It can be on any platform in the world, so this is open to non-UK residents.
For me, it’s a tie between Dave and ITV4, closely followed by BBC4. Look at Dave’s schedule of an evening: Dragons’ Den, Top Gear, Whose Line Is It Anyway? and more. It’s what we turn to first when we need something to amuse and entertain us.
ITV4 is something of an odd channel but I always scan its schedules just in case. As well as repeats of all the ITC shows like Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), The Champions, The Saint and UFO, there’s re-runs of The Professionals, good films, as well as the occasional odd nugget like Ultimate Force that’s worth tuning in for.
As for BBC4, although it’s 90% rubbish, it does have the occasional gem and some intelligent programming. It’s not one I tune into unless I’m looking for something specific though.
See what I mean about needing to have a brand? I don’t really identify with any channel, so it’s all about the programming for me.
But anyway, what about you?