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.