There are a couple of things one could read into the fact that the BAFTA Television Awards – broadcast live on Sunday night – enjoyed its biggest TV audience since 2008.
The first is that it might reflect the renewed interest and passion for all things TV. TV has been undergoing something of a renaissance, with record viewing figures, new ways to watch, and – for commercial TV – a growing share of advertising revenue. It wouldn’t be surprising if a celebration of its best in class echoed this trend.
The second thing to note is the primacy of live viewing and how it is partly fuelled by social media.
The BAFTA Film Awards earlier this year were broadcast on TV with a two-hour time delay. This meant that people who were actually at the awards ceremony could announce the winners on social media before the TV broadcast, rendering it a little unsurprising and underwhelming for viewers. The social media leak somewhat spoils the experience.
The BAFTA Television Awards apparently learned from this and went out live. As such, they were accompanied by live blogs and as-it-happens commentary online, which all added up to a much more rounded and satisfying experience for the viewer.
Social media is making ‘live’ TV even more unmissable; miss the original broadcast and a friend on Twitter or Facebook may well give the game away. Thinkbox’s Tellyporting research discovered this sentiment and now a new piece of research in the US has found the same thing, with 20% of respondents claiming they watch more live TV specifically in order to avoid spoilers.
(If you have a spare 45 minutes, watch this TV Special by the BBC Review Show. Quite amazing if you think about how some people were talking about TV four or five years ago.)