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2015: A Vintage Year For TV Programming

So we’re approaching the end of January, the month of tear-stained bank receipts, the near-primordial hunt for bargains, nights of folding socks into pairs, and excessive doses of winter.

Yet, with both the madness of the January sales and the month’s weighty insistence on frugality beginning to subside, a clear view ahead is manifesting – allowing us to absorb a landscape brimming with fantastic TV content and – by extension – considerable opportunity for TV advertisers.

60 Years of Commercial TV

Let’s begin with an ode to a British institution. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Independent Television Service – better known as ITV. Since its inception in 1955 and the airing of its first TV advert – which, incidentally, was a very of-the-times promotion for SR Toothpaste – ITV has grown into a marketing platform of monstrous proportions, its tendrils stretching across new ground into first, regional TV advertising, then the digital television arena.

With thirteen advertising regions catering for the targeting of specific geographical areas, and six digital TV channels that accommodate the divergent tastes of distinct audience demographics, ITV has been a key progenitor in the development of TV advertising as a highly targetable – and by extension, cost-efficient – marketing medium. With so much to celebrate, ITV will be airing a live episode of Coronation Street in September to mark the anniversary – the last of which delivered a peak TV audience of over 15 million.

TV Channels Readied For War

The commercial TV market has changed substantially over the preceding decades, but one constant remains: TV content is the currency by which the reputations of television broadcasters are measured. With competition for audience engagement at unprecedented levels of ferocity, 2015 promises to be a vintage year of TV programming – with the likes of ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky all poised to grab for the jugular of increasingly discerning TV audiences.

Channel 4 will return with the wildly successful, hotly debated Benefits Street – with last year’s offering attracting 1,700 complaints and delivering the channel’s highest ratings of the year. Accompanying this touch paper of a TV show will be the epic, Julie Waters-led Indian Summers; a historical ten-part series that chronicles the dying embers of the British Empire in India. Also of note is the final ever series of cult sit-com Peep Show, whilst Cucumber – the follow-up to Queer As Folk – has recently received its maiden airing. A sister series, Banana, is poised to run on E4 later this year. Channel 4 will also be broadcasting weekly live NFL matches this year, most notably Super Bowl XLIX, which is to air on Sunday February 1.

ITV has long been held as the dominant force of general entertainment programming, and 2015 will be no different, with the likes of Britain’s Got Talent, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, and The X Factor all returning for their annual invasions of TV, social media and print. Yet a threat to ITV’s monopolisation of peak entertainment looms on the horizon in the form of Channel 5’s Big Brother, the Celebrity variant of which has entered 2015 in scintillating fashion – oozing enough controversy to make Jeremy Kyle blush. A second series featuring members of the public is due to air later this year, with not just fireworks expected, but an all-out firestorm.

Also returning to the ITV pantheon in 2015 will be the ever-popular Mr Selfridge – with the third series due to begin at the end of this month – and the irrepressible Downtown Abbey in Q4. We also wait with no small amount of anticipation for the TV adaptions of Jekyll & Hyde and Beowulf; two exciting commissions poised to whip the nation into an offline and online frenzy.

Of particular interest to sports fans will be the forthcoming Rugby World Cup, with England attempting to reclaim the crown they won in 2003. With home advantage this time around – not to mention the fact that every live match is scheduled to air on either ITV1 or ITV4 – national support is expected to be fierce and widespread.

The Politics of TV Advertising

2015 is also a huge year for national politics, with May 7th's General Elections set to determine which party will be entrusted with the UK leadership for the next five years.

Despite 2010’s election – the first to feature live TV debates during the campaigning – triggering the first increase in voters since 1992, there remained a tangible sense of disinterest amongst the youth population. The hope – dare I say, expectation – this time around is that 2015's instalment will generate much greater interest, due chiefly to the divisive presence of UKIP, the expected involvement of Channel 4 (which will join the BBC, ITV and Sky as broadcasters of the debates), and an increasing focus from the major political parties on capturing the youth vote – which is regarded as key to winning the election.

With 77% of 18-25 year-olds planning to take to the ballots this year, the TV debates – which are currently scheduled to take place on the 2nd, 16th and 30th of April – are poised to become a huge ratings winner. Provided David Cameron summons the courage to face off against his rivals for Downing Street, of course.

Sky’s The Limit For TV Advertisers in 2015

You didn’t think we’d tie things up without casting the eye of scrutiny on Sky’s arsenal of TV content, did you? Sky Atlantic – the network’s haven for quality dramas – will this April host the grand unveiling of season five of Game of Thrones; the final ever season of acclaimed, New Orleans-set prohibition drama Treme; Lisa Kudrow’s new, highly-anticipated comedy The Comeback; The Last Panthers, a dark drama set in mainland Europe’s shadowy gangster underground which features the talents of Samantha Morton and John Hurt; and, lest we forget, the second-part to the final season of Mad Men, the sophomore series of True Detective and Alan Partridge’s Mid-Morning Matters.

There is also Sky 1’s exciting roster of both new and returning TV shows: including the apocalyptic comedy drama Apocalypse Slough, Ross Kemp’s Extreme Worlds, Karl Pilkington: The Moaning of Life, and ground-breaking new medical drama Critical.

Of course, if it’s sporting drama you want, then there’s no better place than Sky Sports, which this year will cover an unprecedented number of live Barclays Premier League matches, the UEFA Champions League, Spanish La Liga, exclusive Formula 1 coverage – where Lewis Hamilton will seek to retain his world championship – Grand Slam ATP Tennis, PGA Golf, and a plethora of other high-profile sports competitions.

TV Content is King

In order for brands to grow and evolve, the frequent transmission of concise yet emotive marketing messages to a large audience is essential. Ultimately, the only way for broadcasters to attract the requisite audiences for TV advertisers is by creating or commissioning fresh TV content that stirs mass engagement. Looking across at 2015’s offerings, it is clear that said broadcasters have held up their part of the deal – now it’s time for the UK’s abundance of ambitious businesses to grasp the opportunities this year brings.

The above is a summary of 2015’s TV highlights, but there are a multitude of further opportunities for TV advertisers to utilise the popularity of TV shows on smaller channels – the likes of which facilitate the targeting of niche audiences. To learn more about everything 2015 has to offer, give Guerillascope a call today on 0800 357 675, or to set the reins loose on your own TV advertising goals, complete our quick and painless TV planning form.