Video is still playing in the major league

Torin Douglas’ article “Video vies for ITV viewers” (MW April 14) re-emphasised many of the key issues concerning the multi-channel, home-viewing debate.

Blockbuster’s advertising investment of £14m for the video medium this year displays the confidence of a company and an industry that has weathered the bad times and is poised to capitalise on the significant upturn in video renting. Indeed, rental video is still the primary route for people in the UK to view first-run feature films and, with nearly 4 million transactions a week, it remains a healthy business.

Of interest to me was the comment by Martin Bowley of Carlton TV. With all due respect to Kavanagh QC, one of the network’s better pieces of programming, his comment that “the video playback had more viewers than the combined rental of Schindler’s List and Four Weddings and a Funeral” indicates a man sadly at odds with BARB data.

For the record, the present BARB tracking of these two films has a combined audience of 6.75 million viewers. Now unless nearly 30 per cent of Kavanagh’s viewers watch the programmes on time-shift, Bowley does both his industry and ours a disservice by this type of glib comment. He might also like to know that Four Weddings has to date generated more 16 to 34-year-old adult viewers than the total all-individual, time-shift viewing figure for all Kavanagh episodes.

Finally, I wonder if Bowley knows how many TV advertisers are pleased to source the quality of programme that video offers two years before it becomes available to them on the network and at a fraction of the price. ITV remains the big hitter in multichannel homes but, as in any well-balanced side, there is always room for the quality players, even if they might be slightly smaller-sized.

Christopher Polley

General manager

Video division

RSA Advertising

London W1

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