On the bottom of our business cards and letterheads, we have the words “From a different place”.
For a young, largely Edinburgh-based business, forging its reputation in a UK market, one of our brilliant board members, MT Rainey, encouraged us to put the very fact that we exist outside the London bubble at the heart of our proposition.
It also references the diversity of thinking that makes up our small team. We come from different walks of life - and countries - and we’ve held jobs in everything from politics to airports, banks and broadcasting, charities and cafes.
But literally, our view from beyond the M25 gives us the opportunity to see things differently and to challenge the London centric views that can dominate our media and skew all of our thinking.
A case in point; last week, the London-based Labour peer Andrew Adonis tweeted the following:
“BBC on ropes. Sport largely gone to Sky. Quality drama gone to Netflix. BBC news increasingly Brexit, weak & simply Govt press releases. If Netflix set up a sharp, balanced News service, what would be left besides local radio, a desert island & a few good foreign correspondents?”
Is it true? Is the BBC and TV on the ropes? Are we all watching Netflix because it’s so much better?
In short, the answer is no.
Fewer than 10% of people in the UK are Netflix subscribers. About two million less than live in London in fact.
The TV still sits in 96% of UK houses. The average person in the UK watches 4 hours 37 minutes of video a day and 75% of that is through the good old telly. Video on demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime account for just 4% of our total viewing time.
In Scotland we watch 10% more TV than anywhere else in the UK - maybe because we’re a friendly bunch and our viewing habits show that watching TV, especially live TV, fulfils the basic human need to share, belong and not miss out. That still means looking at a schedule and sitting on the sofa together.
On-demand TV simply can’t satisfy all our viewing needs. Broadcasters are experts at knowing what we want to watch before we do and now that we can watch and tweet at the same time, live TV has a new dimension for critics and fans alike. And we can be sure more good stuff is coming; UK broadcasters are investing £6 billion in TV programmes a year. To put that in context, Netflix invested less than £5 billion globally in 2017.
When we look at the data, we can see why TV advertising is actually becoming more effective and remains the best way to generate growth for brands. It is the most trusted environment for advertisers not only because of its reach but because advertisers know their brands will be aligned with the best content - something with which online advertising is increasingly struggling.
TV’s share of advertising spend has stayed steady at around 30% for 20 years or more. In fact, despite a decade of disruption, standard viewing of TV is resilient and that includes viewership amongst the youth. Young people spend more time with TV than any other medium and that looks set to stay the same as they get older and sit their kids in front of Cbeebies, just as the generations before them have done.
So from where we stand, sometimes looking at things from a different place can help us to see that things are just the same as they always have been. In a time of global change and unrest, it might be tempting to think that everything is changing, but actually, it’s not.
Harriet Moll is a partner at Charlotte Street Partners
Note: All data sourced from ThinkBox