- a knowledge base for media professionals
Show Biz
Search / Email Story / Print Page /

Absolutely Live And Right Now

The media trend of the decade is right now. People want that drama at the moment they want it and they want to be in it. Delivering that means lots of bandwidth, literally and figuratively. For some media watchers live television is over. For others it isnít just the future itís the only future.

is it live?The season finale of reality-talent-fashion show Germany’s Next Topmodel broadcast live from Mannheim was abruptly cancelled in mid-May because of a security threat. Three days later a bomb scare forced cancellation of a live episode of Deutschland sucht den Superstar (Germany seeks their Superstar). Neither resulted in anything worse than rescheduling but occasionally dreadful things happen. The iconic German variety-talent show Wetten, dass? never recovered from an incident that left an amateur stuntman paralysed from the neck down. It’s the very nature of being in that dramatic moment.

“Of course, we will continue with live shows,” said Sat.1 spokesperson Diana Schardt for the Tagesspiegel article titled “Are live shows on television at an end?” (May 17). “A very special charm is there.” Germany’s Next Topmodel is produced by ProSiebenSat.1 Media production house RedSeven Entertainment. In keeping with the showbiz tradition that the show must go on, the delayed finale was broadcast two weeks later from New York City, not live, even though the red ‘vote now’ button was prominently displayed. The season ender was watched by 2.3 million people, according to AGF, quite a bit lower than 3 million for last year’s season finale.

Live reality-talent shows abound, tele-voting for or against participants creating, hopefully, a large degree of viewer attachment. The biggest brand in this TV genre is, arguably, the annual European Song Contest (ESC). This year’s ESC final from Vienna drew a worldwide audience estimated by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) of 195 million. The EBU and Austrian public broadcaster ORF co-produced the event, which was won by Swedish singer Mans Zelmerlow, backed by extraordinary special effects. Forty European public broadcasters carried the live show plus channels in Australia, New Zealand, China and, by delay, Canada. (See EBU presser here)

Next year’s ESC will move to Sweden for the 6th time, hosted by public broadcaster SVT, which bears the production costs. “At least they can afford it,” said a grumbly UK writer in the Guardian (May 24). ORF spent, reportedly, €30 million to stage the event, part of which was certainly offset by local sponsor contributions plus ticket and souvenir sales. Austrian Airlines dutifully decorated one of their airplanes.

Russia’s State broadcaster Channel One spent, according to official budget figures, €31.5 million hosting the 2009 ESC in Moscow with Russian Federation sources spotting another €22 million for, reportedly, the most expensive ESC hosting ever. Since the Great Recession other broadcasters have been far more frugal.

US network Fox cancelled American Idol, presented live, in May after 13 seasons as ratings plunged. Costs for the show (read: talent) had reached the stratosphere. Critics have forecast the imminent demise of the reality-talent TV format for at least a decade. In truth, shows come and go.

Beyond the reality-talent genre live television is dominated by sports events, news events, sports-news events and annual TV awards shows. Live sports, highlighted by recent football news, is migrating ever so deliberately to pay-TV channels. Live coverage of news events can be found on every conceivable platform, broadcast TV’s dominance slipping to the inevitable favor of social media video news platforms like Periscope.

US networks NBC and Fox are experimenting with live TV performances of well-known musical theater productions. NBC’s successful offering of The Sound of Music in 2013 and Peter Pan in 2014 led to a live production of Wiz, to be broadcast later this year. Fox will be offering a live performance of Grease in January 2016. ABC (US) offered two live episodes of daytime drama General Hospital last week.

Spectacular in its own right, US and UK public broadcasters PBS and BBC are co-producing a live 3-day natural history event Big Blue Live in late summer. Time zones being undeniable, the UK version will run during the last week of August and the US version a week later, one 3-hour show for the East coast and another for the West coast. The location is Monterey Bay, near San Francisco. Main actors are whales, seals, dolphins and maybe a shark or two.

Live broadcasts once dominated all television; radio, too, for that matter. More than a generation after the last live daytime drama was broadcast television is ever so cautiously returning with more than tried and tired reality-talent shows. Live TV creates an event new to Millennials now accustomed to binge watching.

See also in ftm Knowledge

Media in Germany

Home to Europe's biggest broadcasters and publishers, Germany is a highly competitive media market. Transition to digital television was easy, other media not so simple, unsuprising with Germany's complex regulation and business structures. This Knowledge file reports on media leaders and followers. Includes Resources 214 pages PDF (July 2013)

Order here

related ftm articles

Digital Detox Antidote For The Over-Connected
Watching lots of television is the chore of the quintessentially effusive or the terminally bored. Analysts and critics, respectively, then ply their talents to draw together the threads of understanding. Itís all very interesting, sometimes useful, often wishful.

Itís All About The ShowÖUntil The Next One
Itís only a matter of hours now before the next big television event of the year. Broadcasters are offering more hours with more reporters and commentators. There will be HD, 3D, mobile TV and, well, more. Everybody is having a go at it, hoping to satisfy the insatiable fans. The accountants will have a go at it later.

The Talent Show of All Talent Shows Ė Vote For Your Favorite Country
Itís the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest finals. The production will air in 42 countries. Viewers by the millions will tune in, cast their votes and tell us how they feel about more than music.


ftm Knowledge

State Aid - Media Rules – new

National authorities have at their disposal a variety of economic measures to stimulate, develop and improve competitive market sectors. Sometimes they miss the big picture or have special circumstances. Within the European Union an executive branch of the European Commission stands ready to clarify the rules of each and every game. State Aid rules are developing as the playing field gets bigger. 35 pages, PDF (September 2016)

Order here

Social Media Matures (...believe it or not...)

Hundreds of millions use social media, billions even. It has spawned revolutions, excited investors and confounded traditional media. With all that attention a business model remains unclear or it's simply so different many can't see it. What is clear is that there's no turning back. 114 pages, PDF (July 2016)

Order here

Investigative Reporting

Investigative reporters have a storied honor among journalists. Praise is less forthcoming from those with secrets, often ready to use all possible means - legal and otherwise - to avoid detection. New tools are emerging to shed light and tell all. This ftm Knowledge file explores methods, old and new, and the forces prefering darkness. 54 pages PDF (May 2016)

Order here

More ftm Knowledge files here

Become an ftm Individual or Corporate Member and order Knowledge files at no charge. JOIN HERE!

ftm Knowledge files are available to non-Members at €49 each.

copyright ©2004-2016 ftm partners, unless otherwise noted Contact UsSponsor ftm