Once again those who think traditional TV is dead have been shown to be spectacularly wrong. The FA Cup and the Eurovision Song Contest helped BBC One gain well over 40 percent of the TV audience yesterday.
For the first time since the 1980s, the FA Cup was shown live on both BBC One and ITV. As usually happens when an event is on both big channels, the BBC got a substantially larger audience.
Let’s be honest, it wasn’t the most exciting of matches. Then came extra time and an incredible penalty shootout. Even on a lovely spring evening, ratings surged to more than 7m on BBC One alone.
Then came the show we usually say “we love to hate” – except this year there was a credible UK entry. The shadow of the war in Ukraine also meant there was a different interest in the proceedings.
At midnight – yes midnight – about 10m people were watching. There were two big questions. Would Ukraine win on the public vote? And if they didn’t would the UK win?
You can hardly think of two more contrasting events than the FA Cup Final and the Eurovision Song Contest. But they have one big thing in common. They are live and unpredictable.
They demonstrate the power of big events and television to bring wide, disparate groups of people together.
And all of us as Pres fans know these are the days when Pres comes into its own. Breakdowns, overruns and unexpected events all need to be anticipated and prepared for.
Of course, events like these are exceptional. But they are a reminder of several special things.
Firstly, live television always has the capacity to surprise. No download can ever match that. Secondly, big events that bring people together are part of society and who we are. Thirdly, event television matters.
Event television can also mean big dramas or the Strictly final. More and more dramas are being dropped on iPlayer straight away so there is no need for fans to wait for the next episode.
While nobody would deny the importance of catch up and on demand, is there a risk of something special being lost?
So here’s an obvious solution. Run a drama across one week with nightly episodes so a series quickly stacks up on the iPlayer. Stripped scheduling used carefully can help create the sense of an event.
But last night shows that those who say TV is dead thoroughly deserve “nul points”.
PICTURED: Eurovision Song Contest 2022 opening shot. COPYRIGHT: EBU.