Thanks to Screen Academy Scotland I was lucky enough to receive a pass to this year’s Edinburgh Television Festival. Now in its 40th year the festival draws around 2500 industry delegates to the city each year to debate and discuss the challenges and opportunities it faces.
As someone interested in working in factual television it was a great opportunity to take the pulse of what’s happening in both commissioning and programme making in the UK. The festival includes sessions with terrestrial, digital and satellite channel controllers who set out their vision for their channels, outlining who they consider to be their typical viewer and what types of programmes they hope to commission and feature in their schedules for the year ahead. I made it along to a number of these sessions but perhaps the most interesting was with Damian Kavanagh controller of BBC3.
Earlier this year BBC3 became the world’s first channel to make the move from broadcast to online; now featuring a mix of both long form and short form content the channel is still finding its feet but looks to have a promising future reaching out through new platforms to its intended audience of 16-34 year olds.
Research announced at the festival starkly demonstrated the rapid decline in television viewing amongst young people, revealing that the average viewer of BBC 1 and BBC 2 is currently 62. Even channels aimed at a youth audience like E4 seem to be fighting a losing battle with their average viewer aged 42. This chimed with the theme of this years McTaggart Lecture in which Vice’s Chief Executive Shane Smith criticised the industry for failing to connect with younger audiences.
For me the festival proved a great opportunity to quickly get a feel for the current landscape and also to meet with and make contacts with talent managers and those already working full time in the industry. It was a great opportunity and I would encourage anyone to take the chance to attend in the future.