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As we all know by now, international web exposure – even if it was unofficial – made Britain’s Got Talent a massive hit for ITV (LSE: ITV). The broadcaster had continued to place its faith in making knock-out TV shows, even as its fragmenting audience decimated its ad sales. So is more BGT the order of the day?
Comments from ITV TV director Peter Fincham on Mirror.co.uk this weekend suggest surprise at the emergence of a rare mass TV hit: “We didn’t think we’d see audiences like that again.
“We’ve come through a period when multi-channel TV has grown enormously … When you write the history of television in this era, that first audition with Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent would be a clip that you’d use.”
But much of BGT’s success was down to Boyle’s first appearance alone. Whether ITV can purposely reproduce that kind of unlikely event is unclear, and whether it should is questionable – the evolving economics of TV still point to multi-channel fragmentation, and BGT’s success stil largely thanks to platforms like YouTube that ITV has barely engaged with.
In the way ahead, then, it must both marshal the diverse and confusing online landscape and exploit its unique mass-market opportunity with big shows like Talent.