Sunday, December 23, 2007

Participation TV - hints website

I've been reviewing progress on my research and had some good input in the last week or so.

If you're a player of these shows or just curious take a visit to the Phonequiz Answers website [thanks Greggles Fan].

If you want to see what the Panorama TV programme found out about the methods used look here.
And if you want to know what the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee thought about it all look here.
Oh Yes and don't forget massive fine that Channel 4 has got to pay for Richard and Judy's phone in quiz.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stories from the front line of Participation TV

So I hope you didn’t think that my research was over..

the survey is done but I’ve had the benefit of input from Robert (Bob) Winsor who worked at Big game TV and who is able to help me understand how the operation of the ITV Play type participation shows work..

Bob kindly spared me some time today and his input will help bring a fresh angle on the research, many of the respondents to my survey were ultimately in favour of the genre but there is another view which I will be able to reflect in my research too.
Bob is letting me use information he has from his lobbyying so expect to see some of that here over the next few days

Bob was impressed with how John Whittingdale MP, Chairman of the Culture select committee has acted but less so of OFCOM, senior figures in ITV, and David Elstien (the one time applicant for the job of DG at the BBC)

If you have input from having played (or worked) on this type of show please let me know, if you do not wish me to use your name no problem I will respect your privacy.
Contact me at

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Winners and thanks


The winners of the luck draw I ran with my research survey have been announced and if you’ve not heard from me you’ve not won anything (apart from a big thank you and a link to my results when I publish).

As I’m still putting things together I’m still interested in anything you’ve got to say about the ITV brand, ITV Play and participation TV – e-mail me ITVPlaysurvey@btopenworld

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Last call for survey! and ITV share price drops

Just to let you know that Friday 16th will be the last day for returns to the survey - if you have messages or comments after that fine just e-mail Don't forget there's still the chance for a prize!!!!

On a related subject I read in my paper today that ITV's share price is at disappointing level ( mid 80s) I think it might be a tad undervalued and bid talk might be on the agenda again when SKY's future involvement becomes clearer. Having said that there continue to be structural worries over long term future of TV advertising. One of the few bright spots is likely to be an easing on the issue of product placement in the EU region which could bring fresh cash to the business (it is already a good generator of cash for the US nets).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

more survey results in

Nice to be able to report that I’m still getting responses on the survey that I’ve been running and that they’re interesting and varied – if you want to respond and haven’t just click here.

I was intrigued to see a load of my old posts around ITV Play theme here.

My research around the theme of participation TV continues so visit again soon ..

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sir Trevor as Michael's smokescreen?

Okay so back after a bit of a holiday and listening to the media guardian podcast I was somewhat intrigued by the idea that the News at Ten story was very much an example of diversionary tactics by Michael Grade to get people to look at the Story of bringing back some credibility to ITV.
Do you think that this is what the story is about? It’ll be some time before the changes to the schedule are made and it certainly won’t solve all ITV’s problems – if you think this is an exercise in damage limitation or something else drop me a line at

And don’t forget the survey only a couple of weeks now (and you could win a mystery prize if you’re name/e-mail address is drawn out of the sack)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Big day for broadcast news stories (ITV report out..)

It’s not yet clear if ITV head honcho Michael Grade thought the news at the BBC of hundreds of job losses might bury coverage of the report into ITV’s premium call use it hasn’t (see some here) but perhaps not everything has been revealed (is there more on ITV Play? ) – hopefully further information will be revealed as time goes by ..

Sunday, October 14, 2007

the Swedish version of ITV Play

Hot on the heels of the recent entry from Youtube for those of you who didn’t see Graham Norton's show on BBC2 on Thursday here’s a presenter on the Swedish equivalent of ITV Play being professional (or not?).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Extension to the online survey - and a youtube..

I’m due to get a little publicity for the ITV Play survey by courtesy of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, as their publication date is the end of October and the magazine is distributed by post I’ve extended the survey close to 14th November – the prizes will be even better and if you can spare 10-15 minutes before then do give it a try.

Here’s a guy who really does not like ITV Play - if he wants to get in touch I'd like to know the full story (?) -

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I don't mean to nag but a further reminder to those with an interest in 'Participation TV' I'm running a survey it closes at the end of October and you could win a prize -please complete and do pass on the link to others...

Here's the link


Along with the news today that the BBC is going to be losing around 12% of it’s staff (BBC Trust permitting) is news (far more interesting for this research) that the ITV report into their use of Premium rate phone calls is around.

Is there a common factor here in the shape of Michael Grade – who quit as Chair designate of the BBC Trust last year and who is now CEO at the helm of the UK’s pre-eminent commercial TV network?

ITV is of course at the centre of controversy over the SKY holding that meant Virgin Media (NTL at the time) could not be ‘cosied’ up to for a possible merger/takeover. Once the dust has settled on this lot (and don’t forget Channel 4 that the exchequer could be looking for funds) I predict the UK broadcasting business will be looking very different.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday papers..

Broadcasting has a bit of coverage today, the papers I’ve looked at The Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday of course cover the BBC’s problems – it’s worth noting that there’s a certain amount of glee by the Sunday Times at the BBC’s discomfort.

The Mail on Sunday also continues (in it’s financial section) with coverage over the premium rate shenanigans saying that Michael Grade will not publish all the findings of the report commissioned to look into the matter. The Mail on Sunday has really covered this story extensively and it believes ‘a major head will roll’.

Looking for coverage of ITV Play I came across this website (and some coverage there of ITV Play too) which may be worth a visit if you’d like to learn more about UK ‘gaming’.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The replacement for ITV Play?

I've been posting to the ITV Play forum and gather from another member that ITV Play will be replaced by 'Bingo'

quoting from the Sunday Express (30/9/07) the post goes

ITV is set to replace its controversial late-night premium-rate phone-in competitions with live interactive bingo TV shows. The scandal-hit broadcaster is understood to be finalising details for the show, which could be announced as early as next month ... To play, viewers would download cards from the internet and use them to play games that would be screened during the evening. The Bingo TV show will replace ITV Play, the firm's discredited late-night phone-in programme which will be off the air by the end of nest year.

This seems to fit in with the recent PartyGaming deal but other forums are taking this story with a pinch of salt.

I'm not sure if this would satisfy viewers of current participation TV on ITV or provide a 'whiter than white' replacement..

Comments or inside news please to

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A break from 'Play'

Somewhat away from participation TV I can’t deny some interest in the SKY owning 17.9% of ITV story, sometime ago an experienced commentator wrote of an end game where ITV sold/bartered it’s share of ITV to RTL and became the controlling interest/owner of C5 – are we moving closer to that?

And while I’m straying from my usual call for responses to the ITV Play survey another story that grabbed me was BBC Worldwide’s purchase of Lonely Planet –How does this work (apart from fuelling calls for BBC to be sold off?), is this out of scope of the BBC Trust ?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

bye-bye Glitterball

My understanding is that last night was the last Glitterball under the ITV Play umbrella and that ITV Play will now be ‘Make Your Play’ only, which I think is rather sad as if I had to choose between the two I’d opt for Glitterball.

Last night I briefly watched Quiz Call which airs on C5, it looked (on first viewing) as a somewhat inferior product with a single host and answers being revealed by removing a sticky overlay (rather than any fancy electronics) the presenter though seemed characteristically upbeat and the game did feature some good ‘extras’ such as a period where callers could offer two answers for the price of one. On a non-scientific feel it looked like more callers and winners. The game I saw being played was for viewers to name children’s TV programmes.

Views on Participation TV? Either complete the survey or send an e-mail to

I’m putting together a list of characteristics/traits I’ve noted of the format which I’ll add during the week for comments and additions by you…

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thanks so far ..

I’m encouraged by the responses so far for the survey I’ve been running and will be following up with those who have kindly said they’ll help me further.
If any one can pass the survey on to those who are so far under represented (perhaps even help them respond) I’d be very grateful. My feeling is, having watched quite a few of the shows that a sizeable part of the audience are ladies who are over 40, these are in many ways not typical internet users and I’m concerned that I might not be getting their views- reports show they are keen online gamers so please respond if you fit this description or if not encourage those who do fit it to respond.
Also of great interest are those viewers who feel that they have been enticed to spend more than they can afford – if you have stories or know people who have please do get in touch (all is confidential). E-mail
Thanks for your help so far and be assured that the findings will be made available to those who are interested but individual responses will remain confidential.
Here’s the link to the survey
Or cut and paste the text below into your browser
And here’s a story about the future online presence of similar offerings..

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

GMTV's massive fine

So far the companies around the ‘phone-ins’ seem to be taking the rap for the deceits and frauds. The Mail on Sunday’s Financial supplement has been consistently anti ITV Play and this week it notes that William Van Rest is ‘still hanging on to job’ he used to be with the rather aptly named Optimistic Entertainment.
News that the company responsible for running the phone ins for GMTV (Opera) was hit by a fine of £250,000 and that GMTV have had a £2m fine imposed on them today is unlikely to make Mr Van Rest feel any more secure at ITV.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Early ITV Play recollections please ..

Finished off my viewing of 18th September show 140 callers in around 4 hours, £3,100 in prize money calls per minute going as low as 73. The big winners were the ladies

I was coming round to think that ITV Play was harmless fun and it may be that now the games are relatively benign but I get the feeling that it was not always so and was interested to find a blog entry from August 2006 and some comments that it had generated here

Perhaps ITV have improved things but how was it when the ‘service’ first started – comments please to

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Boys' night on 'Make your Play'

So looking at the ‘Make Your Play’ show of Tuesday 18th September, another of those ‘boys’ nights’ featuring Ben Baldwin and Russ Spencer (he of recent UK Eurovision group Scooch).

What I’ve noticed on this one is that there are far more mentions (particularly from Russ) of ITV, mainly allied to the website but unusually mentions of things like Coronation Street and other ITV programming.
The opening ‘Stack’ which lasted two and a half hours was PUBLIC and toilet and convenience were both popular answers. I’m not sure if the fact that the school holidays are now over but there seem to be less callers who are under 18.

Oh yes and that Blue Peter cat and the worry that meant it was not going to be called Cookie, have a look at what the Guardian says but it seems Socks too has more than one meaning too…
Dont forget -Survey - great prizes if you can spare 5 minutes or so and you've views on participation TV give it a go (you could be a prize winner).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Call to Action and Trust..

Although not directly linked to this research it’s been interesting to see the BBC drawing further skeletons out of the corporation’s murky innards. The BBC in requesting votes and then using the money generated (above that taken by the telephone operator) is, to me on shaky ground, I do not believe (personally) that they can decide where/if this money should go to a particular charity. So I think I know one possibility for the ‘cookie’ worry – what do you think? (The answer will be here tomorrow.)

Participation TV is full of these and here's one from me...

Thanks to those who have helped with the survey very grateful if you can suggest to other UK TV viewers of ITV play (and similar shows) that their views are of interest and could win them a prize.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Just to confirm independence

I noticed today a blog entry that appeared to consider that the survey I'm running (and funding and collating and ..) is connected with ITV - please be assured that it is not. I'm keen to get input from people who like the programmes, those who don't and definitely those who have had bad experiences. In fact I'm interested in the genré generally so channel 5 watchers and those of other channels please; views would be appreciated too.

I don't want to draw conclusions too early or from too small a sample but results will be available to those who want them after it's closed. (e-mail

Interesting post here too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Another 'Make your Play' dissected

Today I’ve gone through the Make your Play of 24th July, fairly standard show with just over 200 calls taken to air, 3 games (mainly word stack of Black) and prize money of £2,750 (4 male and 2 female winners).
Hosts were Ben Baldwin and Zo Christien.
Call rates varied from a peak of around 1,600 down to just over 100 per minute.
There was caller from Spain and a rare example of swearing (by a winner), I also note how rarely callers were able to moan about difficulties getting through. I have one more Make your Play to analyse (it'll be for tomorrow’s Tuesday 18th September ) and then I’ll start some more detailed work on the effect on the ITV brand – don’t forget to fill in the survey (HERE) if you haven’t yet .

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Getting input.. (and links again)

It’s been gratifying that so many people are able to offer time and advice including people who are not keen on participation TV.

So far I’ve been going through Myspace users, hopefully I’ve not offended too many, I’ll be targeting Facebook next.
A big thanks to Linked in users who have responded with useful tips.
Reports are that ITV is going to improve its programming I’m not sure if this means that there’s no future for ITV Play – let me know your view

I don’t think that news of Grade’s bonus will endear him to the employees who are to lose their jobs or shareholders who are awaiting a real improvement on the company’s profitability if though in a year's time things are looking better the cost will be worth it.

And here’s the survey link again or for cutting and pasting..

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What will replace ITV play??

A reminder that those who have 5 -15 minutes and are interested in this subject could help me by taking part in the survey here and also passing the link on to others.

Folks who respond and put some contact details in (at e-mail stage) – get the chance to win one of at least 5 prizes, I’ll also be happy to share my findings when the survey closes.

News that ITV intend to cease this sort of programme adds further interest as perhaps there is room for an improved offering to launch or for something similar online (what do you think – )
We will have to wait and see how the 4 hours or so that is used by ITV is recycled (Teleshopping or repeats and conventional advertising are both possibilities).

If any of you have ideas on how to get more people filling in the survey please also e-mail me (I'm sure another prize can be found for effective ideas!)

More tomorrow

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another singular effort from Ben and early feedback on the survey

Ben's Solo
So another piece of ‘content’ analysis around the Make your Play strand this time it was Monday 10th September and another solo effort from Ben Baldwin.

Notable points:

* As a result of sports coverage the show was the shortest I’ve viewed coming in at around 2 and a half hours.
* The prizes awarded were at an all time low (again for the shows I’ve watched) at £600 (split between just two winners).
* Around half the callers to air were male and both winners were mail.

Now I applaud Ben’s stamina but to my mind 2 and a half hours solo TV is going it a bit and I think a second host would have made all the difference.

Early survey results

Some survey results in which is very encouraging, few points
> the comments and free text are fantastic,
> I won’t be able to enter you in the prize ‘draw’ if you don’t provide contact details –you can add e-mail or put contact details in the comments section,
> If you can direct viewers to the survey that would be really helpful, here’s the link
Or click here or above right on this at the survey link on this webpage !

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Online ITV Play Survey Open (with great random prizes)

So finally there's an ITV Play survey where you can let me know what you think!

Enter here or click on the link (above right).

If you let me know your e-mail address you'll be entered into a prize draw, at least 5 random responses will get a great prize (These include a camera, a radio and more)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

End of Glitterball samples

A couple more Glitterballs, (the last of the planned sample) that I’ve been going through and some points from them, the dates were Saturday 28th July and Friday 7th September. Both shows featured a single ‘stack’ a word to have another word (or words) joined to it with 6 or 7 possible answers (see illustration). The words wer BACK and HALF.

Both shows were hosted By Alex Kramer and Craig Stevens, the 7th September show was shorter than normal due to changed ITV programming as a result of the death of Pavarotti .

These were the first programmes that I’ve viewed that had commercial break in them making them more like conventional ITV fayre, the breaks were single ones and were at 33 minutes into the show (7th September) and 52 minutes in (28th July).
Some answers were repeated a lot (e.g. Backgammon 6 times on 28th July and Moon 7 times on the 7th September)

£3,300 was awarded in prizes on 7th September and £9,000 on the 28th July, on the 28th July there was nearly 2 and a half hours from the last winner until the end of the show, which to me seems rather a long time between winners.

Any comments?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

UK premium phone regulator ICSTIS gets a new name

The UK premium rate regulator is getting a new name and as Scott says on the OFCOMWATCH website I’m sure we’ve been waiting with baited breath for the new name for ICSTIS, in fact come October it’s to be called Phonepay Plus which it then seems will be known by the commercial sounding as P3, as the Register notes this might not be the best name saying ..

"it sounds exactly like one of the crooked operators they're supposed to be policing"

ICSTIS of course are more positive and see the name change as helping as the name ICSTIS was presumably responsible for not being

"...helpful in terms of public awareness."

We’ll have to wait and see if the name change will herald anything more than orders to various printing companies

Saturday, September 08, 2007

More Glitterball

Further analysis of the content in ITV's late night participation slot brings to light more stats.

On Wednesday 22nd of August’s Glitterball featured Craig Stevens and Katy Pullinger, the show started off with a ‘Wordsearch’ containing boy’s names and the programme awarded £7,000 in prize money, call volumes dropped as low as ‘an average of 63 per minute’ which is quite a drop from the maximum which was over 1,200 per minute.

It’s interesting that even at low call volumes callers are getting through more to be ''on-air' than once (at least two repeat callers on this show) it would seem that the dedicated participants are going far beyond the ‘suggested’ (on-air) limit of 5 calls per show and perhaps somehow going beyond the 100 calls in ITV Play’s terms and conditions, that number of calls would be around £750 per session at the BT call rate.

Statistically it appears that from the show analysed about 60% of the callers were female but the ratio of female to male winners was 6 to 1, I will also look to see if the all male and all female presenters swayed the balance at all on the shows surveyed.
Again there were two on air callers who were questioned by the presenters about their age (being too young).

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Girly Glitterball

Having watched the boys night of ITV’s Make your Play, analysis of the girls night Glitterball was something I was not immediately drawn to but in the event of it I found it far more enjoyable than anticipated. Again Glitterball seems far closer (to me) to main stream entertainment than Make your play and it appears (again to me) that this is not jus a function of the amusing Craig Stevens.
The Girls night Glitterball I viewed was for the night of Tuesday 7th August going into the early hours of Wednesday 8th, the hosts were Alex Kramer and Yolly Kopel.
Yolly and Alex an be seen here in one of the amusing parts of the show of 7th/8th August here.

It was the first time I’d seen Yolly and like the other presenters she was very accomplished and able to think on her feet, like Craig and Alex she was also capable of being very amusing. The show featured a single game (a stack) where the word to be added to was Full ____ . the number of contestants calls that went to air was an unspectacular (but fairly average) 134 in the four programme, the money prizes awarded were low by Glitterball standards (£3,500) with 4 of the five winners being female.

One caller to air again appeared to be underage (she rang off after giving a less than thoroughly convincing date of birth). There was much interplay between the two girls and an element of hilarity when the cricketing term ‘Full Toss’ was offered as a possible answer.

I’m also now noting the time in the show where ITV2 viewers stop seeing the show and another difference from make your play in that presenters invite interplay with viewers on other topics than the games by asking for e-mails and then using some of these to help pad out the programme.

If you have a view on this type of programme drop a line to

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What channel are you watching?

Another night and another Glitterball under the metaphorical microscope, this one was from Friday the 27th of July and on it Craig Stevens was assisted by Alex Kramer.

The show started off with 10p madness where contestants could call from a BT landline for only 10p (as opposed to the normal 75p) that lasted about 10 minutes.

The notable caller on this show was a caller who it turned out was watching Quiz Call on Channel 5 (the caller looking at the TV identified Craig as a girl) and gave a not surprisingly unsuitable answer to the question of Hot What ? in the Stack as Jukebox, other answers that fitted more with the theme (and were correct) were Coals and Temper.

The show had a good number of callers taken 'on air'(146), only 3 winners (all female) but still managed to give away £10,000 in prize money.
There were two calls that made it on air from Crazy Nige who I fear could be a bit annoying if you met him (but of course he might be absolutely charming).

I also note James Murdoch's views on the phenomena seen here -I take it from this that he's not a big an.

Any comments on the world of ITV Play or want to help me with my research - drop a line to

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

ITV'S Glitterball versus their Make Your Play

ITV has 2 participation programmes each of which runs for 3 days of the week for a duration of (usually) around 4 hours per night/early morning. Sunday night is a night off for the participants- presumably for their good behaviour.
Having spent some time analysing ITV’s Make your Play I’ve now moved on to Glitterball which does pretty much the same job as 'Play' on the remaining nights of the week; ostensibly it’s much the same mix of word quizzes and puzzles but to me so far I’ve enjoyed watching it far more than Make your Play I put this down to a mixture of factors, the principal ones being the programme seems to be more about enjoyment rather than just a 'for money' quiz, the show has more interplay with the participants and amongst the hosts, with more 'two handed' action.
I would also judge Craig Stevens as an amusing guy, who is a self deprecating performer and can bounce off his co-hosts well, in this case the former Eternal singer Kelly Bryan (who seems to have a variable spelling of her first name).
On the show of the 26th July 83 calls went through to the studio and £10,000 was awarded (6 winners) in prizes (far more than I’ve seen on Make your Play) call volumes dropped to as few as an average of 50 per minute which still make the odds of getting through pretty slim but a little less than astronomical.
Interesting point on the show in question was that an underage caller was turned away (I wonder if there are a similar proportion amongst the callers who do not get through), another all girl winners night too

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ben's solo effort

Reviewing the ITV Make your Play of Monday 30th July it was notable for a few things one being that it was a solo effort by Ben Baldwin as the show’s host and at around 3 hours and twenty minutes that’s no mean achievement, having said that I think it would have been better with two presenters. There was also a rather long break in the proceedings where I imagine Ben went to pay a call of nature.

Another point is that around £850 was awarded in prizes; it seems a pitifully small amount, I felt that I should have got this for watching it! (Winners were split equally across the sexes on 30th July).
“Crazy Nige” got through twice (and won once), I can’t help thinking he must have quite a phone bill, also interestingly someone confessed to have been trying all night to get through saying he must have spent a £1,000 (he then gave an answer which had already been discounted) Ben was obviously put out by this callers behaviour as they had ignored his oft repeated warnings.
The reason that I might seem a touch harsh on Ben is that I watched some Glitterball and that was more enjoyable and not because the prizes were more generous – more on that tomorrow.

Friday, August 31, 2007

50:50 sex split for winners on last nights show

Another detailed analysis of ITV’s Make your Play this time last night’s show – the presenters again were Ben Baldwin & Zö Christien.
This time the four hour show had eight winners taking away a total of £1,950 the winners were split equally by sex (four apiece) with call volumes dropping from a peak of around 650 per minute to as few as 55 per minute (at around 03:30 am).

The show had a total of 5 games with 3 snakewords, a stack (water was the word) and finishing with an unwon ‘criss cross’.
The number of calls taken on air was 144 which comes in at around 36 per hour. Of note on the show was that ’Crazy Nige’ got through three times, calls come through on a ‘random’ basis with call limits in place, Crazy Nige claimed that he was shortly going to Barbados for a holiday on his ITV Play winnings (he didn’t win on this show but here he is on YOUtube winning before Christmas)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mr Shaps on ITVPlay

Hot on the heels of results that emphasised the damage suffered by ITV as a result of the ‘premium rate phone call scandals” we’re told by Simon Shaps that ITV Play doesn’t damage the brand.
Speaking at the recent TV get-together in Edinburgh Shaps was unapologetic about the genre.
Alternative voices are less sure of the veracity of the claim made by Mr Shaps.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another potential advantage

So the analysis continues and I’ve looked in some detail at the ‘Make your Play’ of the 25th July which was hosted (unusually) by two male presenters, they being Ben Baldwin and Russ Spencer.
Now the show that they characterised as a ‘boys show’ was dominated by the ladies with all four of the winners being female and the women callers outnumber the men by over two to one, I’m not sure if this was unusual but I’ll be looking at more transmissions to determine this
The show had considerably less ‘on air’ contestants than the previous nights one (I made it 149 for the show that aired 25th July as opposed to over 200 on the 24th July). I also reckon they gave away only £2,000 and that was all in the first hour and a quarter.
So the next important advantage for taking part in ITV Play to consider, is perhaps the advantage of being a woman.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

how to improve your chances of winning

So after a nice holiday I’m back in earnest on the research and have actually started going through the programmes ITV puts out in the participation slot in some detail.

The first ITV play I watched (night of 24th July) clocked in at a little over 4 hours, I was surprised at the number of callers taken on air (214) which averages at about 50 per hour, this gave 5 winners (40 to 1 odds for those who got through) but the number of callers varied between (around) 60,000 per hour at the start when about a thousand calls a minute were coming in to around 6,000 per hour at the end of the programme by my very rough calculation. This equates to a chance of winning between 48,000 to 1 and a much better 4,800 to 1, it seems to me that if you are going to play and want to win you’re better to leave it until the final hour of the programme when the number of calls being made is far fewer.
The total prize money given was £2,750 I’ll try and calculate an indicative sum for the revenue and let you know.
Comments please to

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Watching Glitterball and Make Your Play

I’ve been reviewing the participation strand which will form part of my research and one of the most surprising part of the shows has been seeing (particularly on ‘make your play’) how few winners there are.

I’ve also noted how many entrants go with answers that have already been rejected.
Having said that I do in fact find prolonged exposure quite hard work, most TV programmes of this form are generally less than 15 minutes before they’re interrupted by either commercials or at least a change of pace these shows are about 4 hours long with generally only a couple of on air presenters.
It will be interesting to see if in time the presenters move into (or return to) mainstream TV.

The challenge to keep the pace going is also evident and addressed somewhat by the going to bonus levels or taking more callers for a while (known on make your play as 'going turbo').

As a result of the preliminary viewing I’m setting some measurable events within the shows, like winners or warnings.

If you want to be part of the research do let me know at

Saturday, July 28, 2007

ITV wants to be seen as pure while call revenues roll in

After the resignation of a high-up honcho from GMTV there was an article in yesterday’s Times that highlighted both the importance of call revenues and viewer trust to ITV.
The problem may be that trust and high revenues may prove to be mutually incompatible, the share-price is currently little changed from where it was a year ago (which some may consider a minor success) but problems around the company’s shareholding by Sky cast something of a question mark over the future rating.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

revisiting the basic topic

Interesting input from discussions on the credibility of TV coverage, in fact the illusions are not unique to TV (or radio) and are accepted as part of the theatre and other 'arts' the problem (to me) appears to be that people are incessantly exposed to ‘media’ and forget that they have been expected to suspended belief for a time.

In the form of quiz type participation TV programmes the rules and warnings now take a much higher profile but surely if people stop and think (and make a call or two) they will be able to understand how it works, if I see something like 1,000 plus calls are being made each minute and about a dozen an hour are answered on live TV then it’s not that likely that I’m going to win- am I missing something?


Friday, July 20, 2007

BBC Trust (versus ITV trust)

So the controversy at the BBC is reaching new heights with some commentators holding Mark Thompson responsible, it’s the first real mettle test of the man and he seems to be acting decisively but should he have known about this before and if he did what's he been thinking? Here's the e-mail Mark sent out to the BBC staff

Not only is it a test for DG Mark it’s also a test for the ‘trust’ which is what it’s all about. How is Sir Michael Lyons (right) handling it – would Michael Grade have done better ? The 'fact' that the Police could be involved mean that this could be even more serious than it currently looks

Now the question I would like to pose is how do we expect the broadcasters to behave?
Should the BBC be held to a higher standard than the other PSBs (public service broadcasters)?

Is it any worse for the viewers to be cheated if the money is going to charity?

What are expectations in terms of programming - i.e. should news reports be the gold standard, how much do we consider the documentaries we see to be objective?

And above these where is TV just entertainment rather than reportage?

With 100’s of TV channels how can we police ‘truth’ is the answer to educate viewers to interpret actively and question, if so does this implicitly affect the governments favoured PSB channels?

If you’ve got a view please let me know also let me know if you want to make part in a survey on Participation TV.
Mail me

Saturday, July 14, 2007

BBC TV shows too little respect for its 'Brand'?

So a further row has blown up at the BBC, hot on the heels of the Blue Peter call scandal where a youngster who happened to be on site was falsely awarded the label of ‘winner’ to overcome a technical problem. This problem which seems to be far bigger was over a pre season presentation to the press where a screening showed highlights from the autumn season, the clip from an upcoming behind the scenes Royal documentary (we need another one?) that ignited such controversy had been edited to show the Queen looking unhappy after a photo session (as opposed to in truth what should have been her being unhappy before it).

So does this relate to Participation TV?

I think it does, the row is about misleading the viewer, the BBC is in danger of further diminishing its brand by cheapening it in such a way, would Disney do something as stupid? (I think not, look at this by the company’s Richard Iger 2004 address to the Royal Television Society).

Michael Grade might be showing his competitive streak in highlighting the fiasco, although he’s taken some action on ITV Play, it might be considered too little and too late. Grade though does have clear financial imperatives which partially excuse his behaviour – the BBC doesn’t and I think (personally) a head should roll (perhaps Mr Fincham?) and procedures around bought in content need to be examined.

Comments -

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Poor ITV results

Recent reports around ITVs results include the point that ITV play has not delivered the revenues that were first predicted these were £9m rather than the £27m of the year before
Here’s the Times report on ITV results.
Digital Spy also reports on the issue here.
ITV as a whole has problems beyond the Play channel including its continuing decline in audiences and the effects of the Contract Rights Renewal which was offered up at the time of the creation of a single ITV.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

It’s not been a good week for terrestrial TV quizzes.

Along with Channel 5 getting the largest fine imposed (so far) by OFCOM for falsely reporting winners in a game they broadcast the Gambling Commission has reported that they have doubts around the free entry mechanism within the terrestrial broadcaster ‘games’ which are meant to stop them being gambling and subject to licensing and a requirement to pay 20% of the call revenues to charity.

Channel 5 may seek to appeal the whacking great fine of £300,000. All of 5’s programmes are made externally so they could have a case, the company that made Brainteaser (the show where the fraud took place) was the incredibly appropriate Cheetah (cheater get it?) part of the infamous Endemol empire.

You can find out what the Gambling Commission's current thinking on Participation TV is here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Germany and the USA Money Madness

As promised I've found a bit more on the participation TV experience from Germany – see a report here.
Looking at various links I see also that the USA has had a run of a show called Midnight Money Madness which was on TBS (Turner which is part of AOLWarner) but according to the TBS website it is no longer ‘airing’. The programme was produced by Endemol and involved making an initial qulaifying text message.

If anyone know more about this one please e-mail to

Sunday, June 24, 2007

more background

It’s another factor in the process around TV participation that whereas sometime ago the party with answers to give would be the broadcaster. With the change in broadcasting structures and a move to a more publisher/broadcaster (as opposed to producer/broadcaster) there are often other companies involved. One of the big companies in the saga around questionable procedures at ITV has been the interactive TV platform provider Opera Interactive Technology.

Often these companies are operating in several markets using a "schtick" that is described by as being to –
"..air rudimentary on-screen word or number games, invite viewers to call a premium-rate line with the answer, then sit back and rake in the cash."

As I mentioned in the last couple of posts this is not a UK only format and I see that in Germany the call volumes are incredible so much so that German broadcaster NTV has links to a 1,000-member forum where German viewers pool their experiences and knowledge, I shall look into this and see what I can find.

If you know anything try e-mailing me at

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's worldwide

I was interested today to hear from Rustum Kozain in South Africa who tells me that the Participation TV virus is active out there too.

I'm hoping that he'll provide more details it seems that the game Rustum describes is an SMS based one which has a prize draw (so sounding very much like a lottery) but it also surprisingly uses the tactics that some games used here.

That is where some answers are unexpected and not the ones that you might consider correct - perhaps this is used to attract people who think that they are going to share the angle that the quiz setter has and thus increase their chances of winning.

The show there is called 'SMS to win' let me know if you have heard of it or other worldwide examples -

Monday, June 18, 2007

Finding links

ITV's recent Timeline

Since ITV Play was launched last year a number of things have happened to the business of ITV, while not saying that there is an absolute link between them all I intend to produce a timeline showing what I consider to be factors in ITV’s business performance – they will be related to the ITV share price (also the sector performance).

The sort of things I will include (I hope are) the media coverage – the headline audience figures announcements (like the arrival of Michael Grade). I do not seek to imply cause and effect but hope that the terrain that the research is playing out across will be registered.

If you can think of factors in ITV over the last 12-18 months that are of significance drop a line to –thanks Tim