**Media Moment of the Week: Rob Beckett’s Wembley wisdom
**Who will win the summer TV ratings war?
**Kantar’s boardroom carousel
Media Moment of the Week: Rob Beckett’s Wembley wisdom
We all had a great time on Tuesday, didn’t we, but arguably no one had a better time than Rob Beckett. Fortunately, the comedian documented the entire day on his Instagram story for our vicarious enjoyment.
From his arrival at Wembley to a riotous Uber home and a crippling next-day hangover, Beckett’s booze-fuelled journey through England’s historic victory is one we can all relate to. The full video is well worth your time, but here’s a particular highlight as the comedy star tucks into some KFC. (Warning: some fruity language).
Who will win the summer TV ratings war?
Summer is here (sort of) and while for many that means beer gardens and picnics in the park, in media land it means convincing people to stay inside glued to their screens. So far, that hasn’t proved too difficult. The much-hyped Euros tournament has practically monopolised attention while the return of reality TV hits such as Love Island has pulled in viewers in their millions.
The BBC leads the way so far, attracting more than 20m viewers for England’s epic win over Germany, plus a further 6.5m streams. While you can’t just add these numbers together (there’s some overlap), that’s approaching the 27m audience that tuned into Boris Johnson’s announcement of the first lockdown last year. If England’s run continues and football makes it home, that figure could just be beaten. The 1966 World Cup final between England and West Germany remains the most-watched UK TV event ever, with 32m viewers.
ITV won the second largest audience of the year so far with its coverage of England’s clash against Scotland, while the return of Love Island attracted a record online audience. Newcomer GB News has also been thrust into the ratings wars, with viewing figures closely followed by supporters and detractors alike.
But why does all this matter? Well, that depends on the channel. For commercial broadcasters such as ITV and Sky it’s a straightforward matter of revenue, with audience numbers determining how much can be charged for primetime ad spots. ITV reportedly earned £12m in revenue from Love Island before the first episode even aired. After a pandemic year in which advertising dried up even as audiences surged, this summer boost is desperately important. It’s the same motive for GB News, though at this stage the upstart venture will be more concerned about establishing a core audience than chasing big ad revenue. For the BBC, by contrast, it’s about proving its continued value to Brits and clinging onto its ever-diminishing funding in the face of fierce political opposition from the government.
There’s a wider point here, though, and one that’s come to the fore with the launch of GB News. Regardless of what the tech proselytes say, traditional TV isn’t dead. Of course, the modern media landscape is hugely fragmented and viewing figures aren’t what they used to be. In its heyday Eastenders could reliably pull in around 20m viewers; last week it fell to a record low of 1.4m. The likes of Netflix, Amazon and Youtube have undoubtedly dragged eyeballs away from linear TV — particularly among younger audiences.
But, as this summer is bound to show, appointment-to-view TV lives on. Whether it’s blockbuster football matches, reality TV favourites or season finales of major dramas such as Line of Duty, broadcasters can rely on huge audiences. This week almost a third of the UK population sat down at the same time to watch England play Germany. As far as reach goes, that’s pretty hard to beat.
Kantar’s boardroom carousel
There’s been a lot of talk about private equity in recent months as buyout groups go bargain hunting for British businesses rocked by the pandemic. For some insight into how these deals play out, however, there’s no better place to look than Kantar, the market research group taken over by Bain Capital back in 2019 following a blockbuster $4bn deal with WPP.
One of Bain’s first moves was to abruptly oust Kantar’s long-serving chief executive. Eric Salama had announced plans to step down after he was stabbed in an attack in west London, but the company’s new owners swiftly relieved him of his duties nonetheless. “Bain have a playbook and either you facilitate it or you don’t,” a source told City A.M. at the time.
Salama’s successor, former Heineken executive Alexis Nasard, was ushered in in January with much fanfare, but lasted less than four months before being shown the door as it was deemed he would not be a “good long-term fit”.
Now Kantar is set to have yet another boss, with Chris Jansen — current Cognita chief executive and brother of BT’s Philip — taking over the top job in November. As Kantar was keen to stress, Jansen has a track record of running private equity-owned companies, suggesting there are higher hopes that this one will work out.
All this, it must be said, comes at a time of upheaval for Kantar, which last month said its business had returned to almost pre-pandemic levels. Now, the market research giant is looking to push on with its shift into technology and is expected to close a takeover deal for US rival Numerator, worth around $1.4bn, in the coming days. This will undoubtedly be Bain’s priority as it looks to steer Kantar towards a potential stock market float in the coming years.
There’s a debate to be had over the merits of the current private equity push (indeed, there’s a row raging about it in the City as we speak), but if there’s one thing we can learn from Kantar it’s that US buyout groups can be ruthless and unsentimental. It’s just a question of whether that pays off.
The algorithm recommends
- Facebook has joined the exclusive club of companies worth more than $1 trillion, following in the footsteps of Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. It came after it won a major antitrust victory in the US.
- Google has vowed to tighten its advertising rules to crack down on financial fraud following pressure from the City watchdog.
- BT has inked a deal with Oneweb to explore how low-orbit satellites could help the rollout of full-fibre broadband in rural areas.
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