Gold medals and silver linings

It would be just plain weird of Thinkbox if we didn’t write something about the Olympics and TV. It would also be disingenuous of us to pretend they were particularly wonderful for commercial TV – at least not directly.

The direct impact of the Olympics on commercial TV is plain for all to see: lower audiences and so less ad revenue. This was as inevitable as Sir Chris Hoy getting a gold medal, our football team going out on penalties, or me blubbing more or less constantly for 17 days.

But there is a positive, indirect impact. The temporary commercial cloud has a lasting silver lining because what the Olympics has done brilliantly for all of TV is remind, reiterate and reinforce the simple, immutable fact that TV is bloody healthy, is expanding, is technology-neutral and is working beautifully with other media – especially of the social disposition. It has further underlined how TV remains the beating heart at the centre of our cultural life. It is where we go to be entertained, informed and to share wonderful experiences. As I’ve been quoted saying elsewhere: we didn’t need the Olympics to prove this, but it’s very useful that it has.

So, in this very important sense, TV – commercial and not, broadcast, interactive or on-demand – won gold.  And I have no doubt that Channel 4 will earn that medal superbly with its upcoming coverage of the Paralympics, this time complete with incredible opportunities for TV advertisers.

I’ll stop there as there have been lashings of praise heaped on the medium of TV in the last few days (and, to be fair and specific, on the broadcaster who snapped up the rights). As examples, I would just encourage you to read the wisdom of Jim MarshallDaniel Barnes, Leila GouldGreg Grimmer, and Arif Durrani.

In the short term, commercial TV didn’t ‘medal’; but long term the benefits of a renewed understanding of TV’s health and influence are worth a lot more.

  • Tess Alps
    Tess Alps
    Chair, Thinkbox
  • Posted under
You might also like

What to watch on Channel 4

David Tenant stars in four-part thriller, Deadwater Fell. SAS: Who Dares Wins ups the pace in Scotland. Everyday meals are turned into extraordinary creations in Crazy Delicious and The Great Pottery Throwdown continues.

The New Pope edit

What’s on Sky in the next fortnight

COBRA takes you right to the heart of government during a major crisis. John Malkovich joins Jude Law in the second season of The New Pope. The Outsider explores the investigation into the gruesome murder of a local boy. Avenue 5 is a space tourism comedy set 40 years in the future when the solar system is everyone’s oyster. Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell host the new series of Portrait Artist Of The Year.