When I was invited to contribute to the newsletter, I was concerned that my current ‘keepmeawakeatnight’ stream of consciousness was probably not something I should share (or anyone would want to read) so I turned to a spot of research on food and feeding. Absolutely my favourite subject. Wikipedia lists around 100 old and new food programmes with the oldest listed broadcast in 1993.
Food and London are two things I love. But who will live in the City 10 years from now and more vitally who will work in the City? Will millennials need the drug that is London like I did? Will they seek out every last funky restaurant and every groovy bar – nightly? Is there a reasonable future based around living, working and growing your own outside of a city, or even in a different country, and commuting in once or twice a week for meetings and feedings. And what does this mean for the TV industry, especially my bread and butter food programmes?
The role of the TV Chef
Looking back at some of my favourite shows, I remember Fanny Cradock broadcasting in the 1970s. On reading her bio it is apparent her culinary knowledge was very limited but her penchant for the ludicrous was so entertaining – good telly. I remember Keith Floyd, the fabulously talented and usually slightly tipsy TV chef, mesmerising his audience with not only his passion for wine but also with his phenomenal skill in the kitchen. He really springboarded the world of TV chefs I think and changed the development of food content for TV. Food content post Floyd is far more sedate – indeed Wikipedia lists most food programmes as educational rather than entertainment.
I worry everything in the food genre has become too safe, too polished. We need new voices; shows that are exciting, entertaining and original. With more and more millennials falling out of love with London due to prohibitive costs, too much noise and horrible commutes, the nations and regions debate has never been more relevant. Programmes should be made by people from and in all parts of the country. They’ll bring a diversity of voices to the screen that should really invigorate the quality of content. We’ll hear from more than middle class men telling working class people they need to eat fresh rather than junk food.
There was a fantastic article by the Guardian’s food critic Grace Dent arguing that “perhaps because healthy-food campaigners always sound so posh, any debate can only ever descend into a bunfight over privilege.“ It’s a valid point. Is a working class person from Liverpool likely to take advice from someone of such a fundamentally different world like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall?
Food shows have the power to do more than just entertain, they can help improve the health of the nation. But it won’t work if the shows don’t appeal to different people, especially those most affected by poor diet – that’s why we need more tasty content rather than the same stuff served up in different packaging every day.
By Tessa Laws, CEO, Franklin Rae
So You Think You’re Funny?
It’s not a question for you, but the title of the prestigious annual stand-up comedy competition for new acts. I’m a big fan of stand-up and had the pleasure of some great contestants taking part in the competition last week at the Bethnal Green Backyard Comedy Club.
The big break
Speaking to a couple of the competitors it was striking by how easy it was to get started in comedy. But, as easy as it is to start, making a big break is notoriously difficult. One of the biggest challenges is getting noticed and building any sort of fan base.
An under-served genre
To me, stand-up is a massively underserved area in the TV industry. Broadcasters and SVoD channels could be doing so much more to help nurture the next generation of comedic talent.
The likes of Russell Howard’s Good News should be applauded for giving a platform to upcoming comedians – it was through his show that I discovered the brilliant John Robbins, and subsequently my now favourite podcast – the Ellis James and John Robbins Show on Radio X.
More needs to be done
It shouldn’t be a case of established comedians helping out their mates though. Broadcasters need to be doing more.
Netflix’s stand-up comedy is heavily skewed by big names, generally from America. It is also very difficult to separate the good from the bad. There doesn’t seem to be any editorial curation of the content. All of this combined makes discovering anything new and exciting, tedious and difficult.
The BBC has its Live At the Apollo series, which it uses to introduce audiences to new performers. It has a couple of other shows and also uses Radio 4 in particular to help with testing out new comics.
Issues with representation
But how representative of the world is the slate of comics the likes of the BBC uses? Its policy of ensuring the likes of Have I got News For You aren’t all male panels should say enough. There are plenty of brilliant female performers, but they don’t have the profile to get on the major shows. Same story for those of different classes, sexuality, politics and ethnicity.
It was heartening to hear of the recent launch of Next Up, a SVoD platform dedicated to providing a huge range of never before seen stand-up content from gigging comedians. It is a great new revenue stream for the performers, gives them the chance to start building and connecting with fans, and with this a reputation which makes people want to see them live.
Ideas like this are bringing the genre into the modern era. The major channels can do more, but it is exciting to see other players getting involved and helping to make people laugh.
By Xander Ross, Junior Account Manager at Franklin Rae
Being a sports fan is an expensive habit. Ticket prices for games are sky high – WRU tickets recently tipped the £100 mark for the first time in the organisation’s history. So, it’s not surprising most of us will prefer to tune in at home to indulge our habits. There has never been more choice for viewers and the amount of sport being broadcast is the best it’s ever been.
As a women in sport, I couldn’t be more excited to see how accessible hockey has become on TV in the past few years following Olympic success. Not to mention being able to watch the thrilling England Netball Commonwealth campaign from the comfort of iPlayer last month.
Sports broadcasting is a complicated landscape however. With streaming rights for certain leagues often split across multiple broadcasters – these days you need a Sky Sports subscription to watch the Premier League, BT Sport to watch the Aviva Premiership and Amazon Prime if you want to watch the NFL. And that’s not even taking some of the more obscure platforms into consideration. My Netball Live subscription is the best £13 investment I’ve made this year – and currently the only option in the UK for watching the professional Suncorp Super Netball from Australia.
‘Netflix for Sports’
There’s no one size fits all subscription package for the ultimate sport fan. Consumers have been crying out for a ‘Netflix for Sports’ for a long time, and there’s a very good reason it’s yet to materialise. Sport is a prolific business, and the cost for live streaming rights is at a premium. The Premier League is the biggest prize in British sport broadcasting, and Sky recently signed a £3.6bn deal to air the majority of the games for the next 3 seasons.
When you consider Netflix paid a record £100m in production costs for the first series of global drama The Crown – it puts the cost of multiple sport rights in context. Sky paid a golden sum for the Premier League, and it’s still not an exclusive deal.
That’s not to say sport isn’t attracting the big tech players. Amazon recently paid a reported $50million for the rights to stream 11 NFL games this season. A package the digital giant managed to win over rival Twitter. And niche markets such as esports have long been reaching their audiences through digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitch.
There are exciting ripples of movement over the pond towards a ‘Netflix for Sports’ format, from the likes of ESPN and CBS. I for one am interested to see how the pay-per-game format of Turner’s Bleacher Report Live will pay off, as it brings together a variety of sports under one model.
But much has to be said about the impact of multiple broadcasting packages from leagues in all this. Live TV broadcast, digital streaming rights, highlight packages, near-live broadcast and goal-clips for the same league are all being sold separately. As a result, there’s so much more content than ever before being auctioned to the highest bidder.
With Sky Sports and BT recently reaching a content-sharing agreement on the Premier League, there appears to be some level of consolidation of rights. So while we might not be ready for an all-encompassing ‘Netflix for Sport’ just yet – change may just be on the horizon.
By Abi Williams, Account Manager, Franklin Rae
Freelance Entertainment Editor, Kim Carr (left!), writes about TV and Showbiz for national newspapers including The Sun and Daily Mirror. This month she tells us about some of her favourite stories of the moment.
What are you writing about at the moment?
I interviewed Strictly’s Aston Merrygold last week, who is now out on a solo music tour before joining up with fellow dancing stars Harry Judd and Louis Smith in theatre show Rip It Up. It’s nice to see the former JLS member getting a second stab at solo success with his single Get Stupid getting a second lease of life now it’s soundtracking the new Samsung Galaxy TV advert.
What are the headlines everyone’s talking about at the moment?
We’re enjoying the return of Britain’s Got Talent but the Ant McPartlin situation still rumbles on and is generating a lot of heat among TV fans on both sides of the industry. On a personal note, I am still reeling about the death of Timmy Matley, The Overtones singer who was thought to be recovering from skin cancer and looked well when performing on Jane McDonald’s Channel 5 show recently. He was only 36 and a lovely man.
What is your biggest frustration as a journalist?
As a freelancer being asked which publication you’re covering an event or interview for in advance can be annoying, because these days commissions often don’t come until after you can offer quotes to a publication. PRs should consider that having a freelancer at an event or doing an interview offers them the opportunity to reach more than one publication because we can usually share out content to multiple outlets. We take up one space and can deliver lots of content – what’s not to like about that?
What are you watching at the moment?
I’m watching the final series of Nashville with sadness that it’s coming to an end, but also relieved as it feels like it’s done its time. It’s making me want to return to Music City to enjoy the amazing Southern cooking and hospitality of the people but I’ll have to make do with seeing some of the cast live at the 02 Arena in London instead.
Brand licensing often goes hand in hand with great entertainment IP. So, what do you need to know about this fast paced industry? Award winning licensing agent Caroline Mickler offers her expert insights in our latest ‘Connections’ blog.
The landscape in which kids entertainment and the parallel world of brand licensing sits is changing rapidly. The changes are not only happening where children are searching for and viewing content, but also in the way they look for merchandise associated with their favourite characters.
The retail space is also evolving at a rapid pace. While the traditional bricks and mortar stores are still dominant, online spend is ever increasing. Competing for space in the traditional retail store is becoming harder for small or new kids entertainment brands as shelves are often dominated by large production companies’ merchandise. Online retail becomes an important player for the smaller companies to gain ‘space’ for consumers to find their brands.
As online spend grows, high street stores need to create a reason for people to bring their children into stores. Companies like The Entertainer and LEGO are good examples of how retailers are adapting to this by creating a sense of theatre. When you enter the Leicester Square LEGO store in London, it is not the boxes of the latest LEGO that draws you in, but rather the chance to take your photo in the life size LEGO underground carriage or play at the ‘Pick and Build’ wall. Major toy retailer, The Entertainer, regularly has toy demonstrations and character visits to their stores to keep customers coming back.
Keeping up with the trends
It is not only in-store theatre that is important, but also being quick enough to recognise the latest trend such as fidget spinners or slime. These can be successful married up with your IP. Understanding where kids are consuming content or finding the latest trends is now vital for the children’s licensing industry and moving on with these trends as quickly as the kids do is also a necessity.
While linear TV is still an important player in brand building and awareness for entertainment properties, the way the children are consuming these shows is moving more toward SVOD, and user generated content across a multitude of platforms. The rise of ‘kid influencers’ on YouTube creating ‘unboxing’ content of new crazes and toys is on the increase. Social platforms are not only generating the rise of the kid influencer but also the rise of user generated content. Children are able to snap, video and create their own content on platforms such as PopJam, SnapChat and Musical.ly, creating a whole wave of content that traditional kids entertainment properties are also now competing with for ‘eye balls’ and engagement.
One way retailers and the licensing industry have been able to become part of this fast-paced kids entertainment space is through personalisation. Examples include companies such as LEGO creating the in-store ‘Mosiac Maker’, or Evode group working with toy retailer, The Entertainer to create personalised branded products online and delivered to the store for collection. Online, the children’s digital brand, Bebods give kids the chance to create their own character and share their world via the PopJam platform.
The future is certainly up for grabs by the agile in the industry.
Caroline Mickler is an award winning licensing agent at Caroline Mickler Ltd
It’s not every day you make the decision to return to a job you left more than four years ago but that’s exactly what I did, returning to Franklin Rae at the tail end of last year. So why did I come back? Well, that’s an easy one.
Franklin Rae has a long legacy in working with media and entertainment companies, helping them to communicate their messages to the industry as well as promoting their content to consumer audiences. Working with creative companies has always been something I’ve loved and getting to do it at an agency with such a unique offering was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
The team here at Franklin Rae have such a wide range of experience, they all bring something unique to the table. Whether it’s a heritage in working with brands and/or producers, a passion for factual programming, a somewhat unnerving love of Rob Brydon, experience working in-house for distributors, a history of working for the trade press, or a love of all things TOWIE, everyone brings something to the company which helps to build our effectiveness and deliver for our clients.
Not only does Franklin Rae pride itself on its communication strategies, it also looks to bring added value to clients in a range of different ways. Connecting people is an important part of trying to bring that added value and as you can see from this month’s newsletter we’ve spent the past few weeks working with Edge Investments, setting up opportunities for production companies/content producers to meet with a VC and hear all about what they are looking for and how to be investment ready. Our feedback showed that those who attended found the event really useful and that’s what’s important to us.
Our plan for 2018 is to continue working with creative companies, connecting those in our network and adding value wherever we can. If Rob Brydon also wanted to stop by that would be a bonus.
By Leigh Turnbull, Managing Director, Franklin Rae