ITV, iPlayer and Funding Television

There’s just been something good on ITV.  This is an increasingly rare event, so this has been the first time I’ve used ITV Player since… well, ever, probably.

The failure of ITV has frequently been blamed on falling ad revenues in the face of competition with the web for advertising spend.  So how come ITV Player is so awful?  The BBC iPlayer has changed the way I and many others consume television, but it was commercial TV who stood to benefit from this technological development.  Internet delivery should offer individualised interactive targeted advertising which shows me only what I’m likely to be interested in and serves me further information if I am.  It offers the chance to gather instant feedback on the messages I view and when and how I view them.

ITV Player does none of this.  It has stuck rigidly to the “advertising breaks” formula and it jams 5 adverts in every time I pause and also at ridiculously frequent intervals (Five, for example, only sticks in a couple of ads in each of just two breaks an hour).  I had no interest in any of the ads just shown me and gave no feedback.  Only one included a link for more information.

Surely it would be of far more value to everyone to put a skip switch on ads?  Yes, I’d skip most of them, but when I didn’t they’d be getting positive confirmation of interest.  Some kind of new deal with viewers where we spend a much shorter time interacting more directly with sponsors’ information would surely be more successful?  Instead, ITV have tried to embed the broadcast format into a webpage, leaving it to the BBC to make all the running with customised software, support for an increasingly diverse range of platforms, and a range of innovative new features about to come out of beta.

The coalition partners who were backed by Murdoch would like us to believe that the market will deliver better television than the publicly funded BBC can.  Yet commercial television is trailing where it should be leading the field.

Another reason to be proud of the BBC.

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See for more...

2 thoughts on “ITV, iPlayer and Funding Television

  1. Not being able to see the ITV player I can’t say for sure, but sounds like they just duplicated or licensed the common player used for networks in the US.

    The only thing you can skip is the program, not the commercials. Which, considering the quality of the programs might not be as bad as it sounds at first blush.

    1. Yes, that’s the way both ITV and Five work. I don’t know about what powers it (I know ITV player used to use Silverlight but when it crashed last night Safari told me the Flash plugin had failed) but that’s how it works. It essentially blocks the customer from using what VCRs and more recently PVRs have allowed viewers to do – skip ads – taking us back to the 1980s – the pre-recorder age. Though as a model for advertising (or rather marketing, since it’s the potential for connecting business with customers that’s being missed here) it comes straight out of the 1950s. It’s as if everything that Google, Facebook and the rest have demonstrated has gone completely over their heads.

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