Bringing more flavour to TV food formats

Bringing more flavour to TV food formats

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.

Diverse voices

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?

Tasty content

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

Standing up for comedy

Standing up for comedy

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

Are we ready for a Netflix for Sports?

Are we ready for a Netflix for Sports?

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.

Streaming rights

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.

Digital giants

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.

Content sharing

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

The Press Room: Kim Carr, Freelance

The Press Room: Kim Carr, Freelance

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.

The Press Room: Andy Fry, Freelance

This month, we speak to veteran TV journalist Andy Fry ahead of MIPTV to hear what everyone’s talking about in the build up to market.

What are you writing about at the moment?

At the moment I’m mainly writing about subjects related to MIPTV in Cannes. But, being freelance means I have to spread my net quite widely so I’ve also been doing stuff in areas like travel, sponsorship and sports marketing. There’s much more of a sense these days that you need to be writing reports, moderating, consulting and so on to make a living.

What are the headlines everyone’s talking about at the moment?

The issue of female representation on screen is a big story right now. There’s lots of interesting looking dramas that have strong female characters, though still some work to be done with getting women into writing and directing roles. Drama, as always, is also a big talking point – especially with the launch of the new Cannes Series event which will showcase great non-English drama from around the world. Broadcast has also got me doing an interesting piece about entertainment programming based on a round table discussion – definitely a feeling there that drama is being paid too much attention by the trade media and critics.

What is your biggest frustration as a journalist?

The two extremes; 1) organisations that don’t engage at all because they don’t think they need the media. Generally in my experience that leads to problems for them in the long run. 2) Organisations that micromanage the process – questions up front, lots of PR execs involved, requests to see copy, questions about who else is being interviewed. It takes forever and makes you dread dealing with them again in future. But, don’t get me wrong good PRs are amazingly useful.

What are you watching at the moment?

Save Me on Sky, which is really good. I love Lennie James and hope he goes on to win some awards. I’m juggling it with Born To Kill (C4 drama last year) and just finished Peaky Blinders series 4, which was brilliantly back on form after a slightly wayward series 3. Jack Thorne’s Kiri was thought-provoking and for a lighter mood I am watching The Durrells with my wife, which immediately gets me looking at travel websites. I occasionally get sucked into First Dates by my wife and daughters. My son and I tore through the exceptional Silicon Valley and are now bonding over Mr Robot.

The Best TV Moments of 2017

The Best TV Moments of 2017

Christmas is the perfect time of year to look back and reflect on what’s made some of the best TV moments of 2017. There’s been plenty of highlights across all genres in the past 12 months, and the FR team have picked out their favourites. See if you agree with their choices!

Big Little Lies

Sky Atlantic – March 2017

Melanie Webb, Senior Account Director: “I am a sucker for a good TV drama. So, I absolutely loved this series and the grand finale was one of the best hours of television I’ve ever seen. The climax was teased from the very first episode, and part of the intrigue of this series was trying to solve the mystery (before it happened). The series worked back to front, which was a clever narrative tactic. The whole scene was shown in complete silence which not only made it so much more powerful, but was testament to the incredible acting and direction. I can’t wait to see what the second series brings.”

British & Irish Lions

Sky Sports – August 2017

Abi Williams, Account Manager: “It takes something special for me to get out of bed at 8am on a Saturday morning. But, I was committed to getting up and watching all three test matches for the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand this summer. And the commitment certainly paid off. After a disappointing start, the last two games made for some of the most entertaining TV of the Summer. I have to confess to watching the last 5 minutes of the final test behind a cushion. Now I can look forward to opening the DVD of the behind the scenes documentary in my stocking at Christmas, and reliving the whole thing again.”

Icarus

Netflix – August 2017

Xander Ross, Junior Account Manager: “Icarus has one of the most unexpected and dramatic shifts in narrative in a documentary I’ve ever seen. Bryan Fogel, filmmaker and amateur cyclist decided to see how doping would improve his performance in competition, whilst seeing how easy it was to avoid detection. In one heart pounding scene, Fogel’s contact Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov has to escape Russia following threats to his life from the state. I was on the edge of my seat wondering whether he would make it or not. It’s not often a documentary has done that so powerfully for me.”

Have I Got News For You

BBC One – November 2017

Sarah Walker, Corporate Communications and Marketing: “My best TV moment of 2017 has to be when the irrepressible and forthright Jo Brand slapped down the Have I Got News For You all male panel, when they appeared to make light of the sexual harassment claims in Westminster during the height of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Her rebuke rightly touched a nerve and garnered cheers and applause from the audience. It must one of the few times in the show’s history that both Paul Merton and Ian Hislop – and their partners in crime journalist Quentin Letts and actor Miles Jupp – have been rendered speechless. Go Jo!”

Peaky Blinders

BBC Two – November 2017

Eve Edmunds, Account Executive: “The return of Peaky Blinders was long overdue and the perfect way to settle into the long winter ahead. Dark, gritty, grey and yet somehow incredibly glamorous, this series so far has been packed with the perfect dose of drama. Tommy Shelby is the star of the show as he attempts to reconcile with his family in the face of his greatest threat. In this series, the subplot of political turmoil also provides a really interesting historical backdrop to the internal drama. Never has the idea of being a 1920s Brummie gangster been so appealing.”

2017 in summary

Leigh Turnbull, Managing Director: “Despite everything going on in the world this year, we have thankfully had some pretty outstanding TV to distract us. We’ve been spoiled by incredible dramas, both returning series and brand new productions. Favourite moments for me included Olenna Tyrell’s final speech in Game of Thrones, Balaclava Man’s reveal in Line of Duty, the return of Victoria, the finale of Broadchurch, finally getting justice for Barb, everything about Catastrophe, and Tom Hardy being Tom Hardy in Taboo.  New dramas to hit our screen and offer some incredible TV also included Three Girls, The Handmaid’s Tale, Mindhunter, Big Little Lies, Broken and Fearless to name but a few.

Not forgetting, we’ve also been treated to some summer fun in Love Island, Stanley Johnson negotiating his way through the jungle, Strictly shock eliminations, thought-provoking storylines from the soaps and the unveiling of a history-making Doctor.  As I said to the team, it’s too difficult to pick just one of these but if I really have to pick my favourite TV moment, it might just have to be this…

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and happy telly-watching!