The Big TV Festival


I, along with two other members of the Carat Client Services team, was invited to attend The Big TV Festival 2018. An entirely new concept; the idea was conceived by ITV, Channel 4 and Sky and powered by Thinkbox, the UK marketing body for commercial TV. I think it’s fair to say little was known about the agenda of the 1.5 day ‘festival’ – we had been given a packing list which included wellies, waterproofs and swimwear.. and few other clues!

Lauren Milner Lauren Milner Media Executive Manchester 2018 trends The Big Tv Festival

The event took place in a bespoke set in Blackwood Forest, not too far from Southampton, and it was the first of its kind to see all 3 public service broadcasters join together to share all things TV. The festival was hosted by Jamie Laing (of Made in Chelsea fame) and Scarlett Moffatt (former Gogglebox star) and we immediately knew that there was no expense spared.  

Joined by a whole host of our media peers, the festival kicked off with a selection of panels in tepees and ‘main stage’ style tents. To open, Joe Mace (ITV Entertainment Commissioner) interviewed Scarlett Moffatt. It was fascinating to hear about her rise to fame with her involvement now in Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway – something she would not have predicted just a few years ago. Moffatt championed TV programming for a broad audience, programmes that include the likes of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway; something you can watch with your nan, your boyfriend or your little sister.  

Next up, Cameron Roach (Senior Drama Commissioner at Sky) interviewed writer/director Nick Love (Football Factory, The Sweeney) and spoke about his new TV series, Bulletproof. They discussed the highs and lows in his career to date as well as the “challenges” of making a 6-part Sky TV drama compared to making a film. He emphasised that the landscape of film had “completely changed” since his earlier days. The timing of a show can make or break it, as he spoke about how the Football Factory “bombed at the cinema” but exceed expectations when it was released on DVD. The key takeaway we had from this interview in particular was that you have to consider cultural changes when measuring success.

A 10-minute panel hosted by Jamie Laing included bosses from ITV, Channel 4 and Sky and covered the current TV climate. Interestingly it was revealed that there has only been an average of a three-minute decline in the amount of time spent watching TV in the last 10 years. With the increase that we’ve seen in tech and screen formats, we found this a hugely positive stat. It also came as no surprise that ITV’s personalised ads on ITV player garner 3 or 4 times more engagement than generic ads.

Being the creative person that I am, I found the session with 2 VIP’s in the ad agency world a very insightful one. Rosie Arnold, Head of Art at AMV BBDO and Chaka Sobhani, CCO at Leo Burnett were interviewed about their favourite ads they have been involved in producing as well as ads they wished they had been involved with. It came as no surprise that Rosie’s ‘most proud of’ ad was for Yeo Valley they invested their annual £5m advertising budget into this one ad campaign, with a huge spot in the X Factor final – and it certainly paid off by becoming the UK’s most downloaded song during that period!

Last but not by any means least was a talk from Rory Sutherland, Chief Creative Director of OgilvyOne. I had never seen him talk before, but definitely left feeling very refreshed and inspired. He covered a few aspects, one of which being the idea of ‘metric chasing’ and how digital advertising is becoming obsessed with real time metrics rather than looking at the bigger picture and the true long term impact of ATL advertising on digital. This mirrored a few of the speakers’ attitudes throughout the festival, but he took it to a new level. The fact that being on TV, when your competitors are not, is a good enough product to succeed was empowering. His ‘a change in perspective’ theory looked at how consumers would think more positively about a brand with the understanding that they have invested time, money and expertise into their target audience.

We all left the festival much more up to speed with the current stance of ITV, Channel 4 and Sky on the key areas of focus in TV – measurement (with project DoveTail in the pipeline for this year), effectiveness and of course the 2018 programming… which got me very excited for what’s to come!

Here’s a quick overview of the top takeaways from The Big TV Festival 2018:

  • TV measurement is a focus for the channels in 2018 with Project Dovetail – they are keen for Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) to update and reflect the current climate of TV
  • The popularity of event style TV (Love Island, Made in Chelsea) and accessibility of social media means consumers now want to be a part of the conversation with reality stars, leading to stronger engagement
  • The importance of considering the current cultural landscape and how this can impact a launch
  • The effectiveness of advertising should look at long-term measures, not just real time
  • A change in perspective when looking at problems in the industry
  • The channels are keen to work with agencies to look at TV briefs and together achieve the best outcome for the client. Their focus is on collaboration to improve TV as an industry, rather than individual gain. Hence, looking at how they can roll out Sky AdSmart across TV more generally.


If you’ve got any questions, get in touch today and we can help you make the most of TV.

Lauren Milner Lauren Milner Media Executive Manchester 2018 trends The Big Tv Festival
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