Monday, November 25, 2013

Wine on TV: a challenge

Among the many people who stand in the dock accused of conspiring against wine (alongside doctors, governments, supermarkets etc) there are, of course, the media. Newspaper publishers don't give wine the coverage it deserves; tv cos don't commission wine programmes. Collectively, all these negative forces are, apparently, depriving an eager audience of the wine material it craves. Wine is, after all, fascinating, full of stories and characters and places.


The facts that wine magazines and wine book publishers fail to make money, that newspaper readers complete surveys saying they don't want descriptive wine columns and that no tv wine series has ever attracted large numbers of viewers are usually swatted aside with the statement that no one has "done it properly".

The beauty of living in 2013 is that anyone who really believes that to be the case can affordably put their money where their mouth is. They can launch an online wine magazine (as Tim Atkin is doing) and they can create Youtube video clips. If they can attract a sufficiently large audience, TV companies and traditional publishers will take notice. That, after all, is how we came to get 50 Shades of Grey and Justin Bieber.

Advertisers like Volvo are exploiting Youtube brilliantly. No-one is doing it with wine. Most youtube clips - including Gary Vaynerchuk's - are watched by pitifully small numbers of people. So, here's my challenge to all those who complain about not getting on terrestrial TV: put up or shut up. Show us what you can do online; make a great youtube pilot. Prove there's an audience that extends beyond the small group of people who are already established wine lovers.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Robert

    Like your article - check out WinescapeTV on youtube and give us some feedback if possible

    Thank you Sir

    Dich

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  2. Hi Robert

    Really liked you article.

    Please check out WinescapeTV on youtube and give us some feedback if possible

    Thank you Sir

    Dich

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    1. Dich, after your kind comment about my piece, I hesitate before answering your invitation to critique your clips. But you did ask, so here goes.

      You are an engaging TV performer and you manage the near-impossible by talking to camera without an autocue for a very long time. You have also chosen potentially interesting people to talk to.
      .
      But... I have one key question: who on earth is the show for? Who do you expect is going to want to watch 20-30 minutes of conversation or a news broadcast about wine when there are so many other things they could be doing with their lives?

      I think I'm rather a fascinating person and I live a very interesting life, but I wouldn't even expect my nearest and dearest to watch me in conversation with anyone for five minutes, let alone talking to camera about the new winemaker at Chateau Godknowswhere. They did watch my contributions to Chateau Chunder because they were brief (less than a minute or so each) and part of an engaging programme with lots going on visually, and lots of other talking heads who were more interesting than me. But I can't say that they would have been desperate to watch another episode. (And, for the sake of context, maybe I should mention that my partner, Catharine was editor of Wine Intl magazine, so probably a more wine-friendly viewer than many.

      The trouble with - and the beauty of - Youtube is that I can see how many people have started to view these clips since they were uploaded. And it's not many. What I couldn't see was how many hung around until the end.

      Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson had a hard time getting audiences for their TV series - audiences large enough to warrant their broadcast - and I think you're a lot further lower on the mountain than they were.

      Sorry, Dich, but you did ask...

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  3. It shouldn't be about "the wine" - that's why wine tv programmes fail.. can they get any more boring?! yawn... Lots of cool stuff one could do but one needs the budget or a friend in high places plus a fantastic idea that would get people addicted to watching

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  4. Thanks Robert - your comments are received in the nature that they were given....and as you say, I asked! The idea stems from working for an independent wine merchant in the UK (sponsor The General Wine Company), and interviewing winemakers to build awareness (and sales) through an audience. And a weekly Wines News webcast etc. Indeed, who would want to watch me chatting to some winemaker? We are trying to be engaging - obviously not enough!! Still, I need to believe that the mountain can be climbed for the sake of the world's vinous wonders, and (in someway) as a reply to your article. Only been doing it for a year or so. Got to start somewhere?

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    Replies
    1. I did guess the background to the show (which is part of the problem) My suggestion is that you make shorter clips (maybe several with the same person) and have some close-ups to break up the monotony of the single image.

      And maybe get the winemakers to talk about other people's wines, foods, places etc...

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