Live TV: Not Just For Sport and Reality Shows


Who watched Sunday's England match on catch up? Of course you wouldn't have dared. Not only would you have missed out on the Monday morning banter/blues but it's now nearly impossible to avoid spoilers from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Sport is certainly a dish best served live, but now we have live reality TV and talent shows playing 24/7 – and, more recently, nature shows have been trying to get in on the live TV act.

But what is it that draws us to live TV? The excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen next?

Or perhaps it’s increasingly about being involved in the show in real time; playing along with The Million Pound Drop Live, abusing X Factor contestants on Twitter or feeding David Dimbleby intelligent questions on Question Time.

However, when you don’t have 90 minutes of guaranteed sports action, you can run into difficulties, as experienced by Planet Earth Live.

The power to broadcast live now extends far beyond broadcasters to anyone who has a laptop, video camera and internet connection and brands are getting in on the act.

Red Bull, the modern masters of content, have recognised the visceral power of live, especially in their domain of action sports, and have a dedicated ‘live’ channel on Redbull.tv.The next live event is in 1 day, 22 hours, 59minutes and 29..28…27 seconds…

Littlewoods have just posted three figure sales increases following their own live TV debut on Facebook. They created an hour-long live show featuring the now slightly nostalgic feeling Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, which was watched live by 4,000 people.

The YouTube views are pretty low but the 292% jump in sales is impressive, aided by the ‘click to buy’ feature within the footage.

Littlewoods have suffered the nature documentary makers’ challenge of sustaining entertaining live action. Despite Laurence’s characteristically energetic presentation, you are still left with the sensation that you’re watching a bunch of Littlewoods floor walkers trapped in a well-furnished warehouse eagerly waiting to pounce on your humble texts for entertainment.

Certainly live content has a lot of potential for brands, but the key is to have a clear narrative and game plan, as you would for any show. This will help keep people gripped about what’s coming next and create opportunities for the audience to get involved.

What do you think? Is live TV only viable for sporting events and game shows? Or with the right planning and idea can any format be made to work live?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Kath Hipwell, Planning Director