Monday, 20 October 2008

In praise of Cbeebies

I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the past talking about commercial TV stations, their various machinations, positionings and evolutions. So I thought I should expend a few minutes singing the praises of one of our license funded channels which I’ve recently begun to spend a lot of time with and which I think manages to achieve something most commercial offerings fail on.
I'm talking about Cbeebies.

I believe that TV stations (and indeed all brands) prosper when they put the needs of their consumers at the heart of their business. Weird as it may sound I’ve sat around tables with television professionals, deciding on new directions for their channels without any real insight (beyond the qualitative) into the lifestyles and needs of their target.

I’ve no idea what research/insight/genius was tapped when Cbeebies was first cooked up... but it’s great. It mirrors almost perfectly the lifestyle and needs of its consumers – the tots and their parents, not just in tone, but in programming, scheduling and well... here are some examples:
Cbeebies kicks off with some involving, primary coloured high jinks – stuff that’ll keep your tots wrapped up while you tidy up after brekkie, or whatever it is you do early on.

At 12 – the time when nearly every mum/dad times their kids main protein feed, they have a lunch hour. Preceded by the magnificent ‘In the Night Garden’ and opened by a ‘time for lunch’ song, which has my young daughter rubbing her belly and doing the baby sign for food.
The afternoon builds with big fun time, a mix of high tempo stuff and gentle entertainment – some of the programming is unmissable. I recommend ‘Nuzzle and Scratch’ (available on the iplayer should you want it), - a reworking of the classic chuckle brothers formula, with Alpacas – genius; as well as ‘Space Pirates’ – go online and check the theme tune.
The day closes with gentle programming and bedtime stories.
In short it mirrors the day perfectly. Strikes the right note, and has programming that delivers on all its promises.

It’s not necessarily something that could be repeated by a commercial player – the fact that there are no ads for example ads to the sense of trust. However there is loads that can be learnt about building a schedule that fits the needs of your viewers.

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