The History and Biography Channels are building audiences through effective use of the EPG and VOD services. Julian Clover reports
The use of electronic programme guides is a vital tool for programmers trying to encourage viewers to watch new shows. Titles have to encapsulate what a programme is about and to catch the viewer’s eye on to attract them to subjects they may be interested in.
Richard Melman, channel director of both The Biography Channel and The History Channel in the UK, tells of the example of a Biography programme featuring the much-loved comedian Tommy Cooper. When the feature was first broadcast the title given was “The Real…” with the actual subject disappearing into the programme description. One month later the programme was shown again with the title revised to give Cooper greater prominence. It was the highest rating programme of the month.
So we will all have to live with titles along the lines of “Britain’s worst nightmares”. “The one piece of dumming down I will agree to is the title,” says Melman. “The message of the programme is more important”.
History and Biography have also been using Sky’s new Anytime service to showcase content to viewers that might not otherwise tune to the channels. The first programmes of new series are broadcast as one of the 25 or so programmes automatically downloaded to Sky+ homes. Melman says that information on downloads taken from the Sky Viewing Panel can then be used as an important scheduling tool.
The two AETN channels are using VOD in an increasing number of markets, most recently in Germany, where History and Biography have recently launched an online VOD service. “We think that VOD is building rapidly and an important part of what we do,” said Melman. He says that Europe’s markets are at different stages, but that the channel is already getting thousands of downloads.