How the Channel 4 outage proves the relevance of linear TV



Saturday night is prime time for linear television, the time of the week when high value-added audiences are accessible on a large scale. Last Saturday, however, a number of UK linear channels, including Channel 4, Film4 and Channel 5, were taken offline by a technical outage that lasted for over an hour.

The fault was caused by an unforeseen side effect of the fire alarm sounding at the Red Bee Studios communication center, which revealed a fault that took some time to resolve. In most cases, the channels were unable to broadcast their scheduled programs in addition to any commercials sold during the hour, and subsequently there was subsequent confusion with the BBC credentials not appearing. in their usual slots.

Regarding refunds for advertisers whose slots weren’t posted, a Channel 4 spokesperson told The Drum: Weekend and we continue to be in close contact with them.

For advertisers, UK linear TV is seen as a mainstay and is consistently cited as offering the highest ROI on ad spend. The best performing ads frequently reach audiences of tens of thousands; research from industry organization Thinkbox suggests linear television is considered a reliable and reliable advertising medium, which has proven metrics for audience figures and efficiency.

Compare that to the often unclear metrics that have plagued the digital video ecosystem. – with a lack of consensus on what is even qualified as a “view”. This is an issue that has become critical as linear channels seek to gain a foothold in the OTT world: in the United States, ViacomCBS recently announced a partnership with provider VideoAmp to provide a unified measure of service efficiency. wired and OTT, for example. .

Measure the impact

Linear TV industry is forced to adapt to audience demand for VOD and OTT services – and although events like the blackout are rare, they undermine this perception. This is a problem exacerbated by the fact that digital video is seeing the lion’s share of the growth in ad spend – the average cost of TV advertising is 5% higher this year than the year before, surpassing a rate ad spend growth of just 1%. , even if the odds go down.

Despite this, AIP media manager Mihir Haria-Shah says the relationship between linear channels and advertisers is strong and while there may be some small concessions made and limited ripple effects, it is. unlikely that there will be any effects. “This event is so unusual that it should ease the blow for most buyers and advertisers. Events such as blackouts are not built into the deals as such, but the way TV is negotiated in the UK (for most agencies) will mean the TV channel will be eager to catch up on lost spots. later in the campaign. Also, in my experience of sometimes having ads that do not show or are not served incorrectly, broadcasters usually come up with a very fair solution to meet the needs of all parties.

“Will brands look to move away from linear TV because of these kinds of risks? I think it is highly improbable. These failures are incredibly rare and appear to have been caused by a fire warning too severe to ignore. A lot of TV commercial buys are about personal relationships, and there’s nothing to cement a relationship like going through a tough, crazy crisis together. “

This is a view shared by Tom Harrington, Head of Television at Enders Analysis: – compare that to the IP delivery of video, which can still often be a bit risky, especially with live events.

The fact that the outage occurred during prime time may ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise for the channels concerned. Because he was noticed by so many viewers – and its rarity highlighted as a result – this is further proof that linear television remains relevant in 2021.


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