The new broadcasters

Ian Burrell

nigel victoria 300x183 The new broadcastersTraditional broadcasters are having a tough time trying to keep their advertisers on board during this economic downturn. The last thing they need is for those clients to go away and, well, become broadcasters themselves.

That’s what’s happening though, and it’s going to grow. Philips, which ought to know something about telly, is leading the way. Its self-produced series Nigel and Victoria, an “unromantic comedy in eight episodes”, stars Ben Willbond (from the BBC’s Extras) and is being shown on YouTube.

The venture ups the commercial ante from previous web dramas. The genre hasn’t grown as quickly as many of us expected following the success of 2006’s groundbreaking lonelygirl15, which inspired Bebo’s British video blog KateModern. Steve Coogan’s indie Baby Cow notably enjoyed a 92-episode run with comedy Where Are The Joneses?, which was sponsored by Ford and featured minimal product placement.

But Nigel and Victoria is much more commercially upfront. Willbond plays Nigel, a Philips marketing executive who introduces himself with the words “I’m the Philips guy” as he conducts his awkward pursuit of a hot Dutch actress filming a promotional campaign for Philips products. If the brand is paying, then the brand wants to get its message across. The content is close to straight advertising, almost like the Gold Blend love story in easy to watch 210-second webisodes.

It’s well made and mildly funny and the most recent instalment had clocked up 26,232 channel views and 449,486 upload views last time I looked. Not the sort of numbers that would look good on a TV controller’s overnights but the big boys will have to take notice when countless businesses start making their own “telly” shows.

Because this client-funded content has a decent budget and is a different proposition to most user-generated video. Just take a look at the quality on another Philips project, Parallel Lines, from earlier this year. In association with Ridley Scott Associates, the project saw six film-makers making six stunning short films with just the same six lines of dialogue. The results, seen here, are used to promote the fact that Philips is offering “the world’s first cinema proportion TV”. My favourite, The Gift by Carl Erik Rinsch, feels like a feature film trilogy on its own.

It’s all part of the wider pattern of brands becoming content owners themselves and having less dependence on traditional media with its restrictive schedules and high advertising rates. And it’s also good news for independent TV companies and budding creatives.

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  • Ciaran Rehill

    Any chance of less censorship on articles such as the police shooting of Mark Saunders? Even the Torygraph sees the faults within what happened at the inquest.

  • commonsenseofletchworth

    The new broadcasters are just hastening the demise of TV as we know it and who cares, maybe just maybe they will then get round to scrapping the BBC licence fee and more to pay per view, which will probably save the nations consumers a packet when the have to think about paying for the current crop of “s**t” reality tv programmes we have on.

  • Maurice Campbell Flynn

    Hmmm … until the brands learn that consumer engagement = interesting narrative not brand message overload, these brand vehicles will struggle to beat even the formulaic content that fills most prime time TV schedules.

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