What did UK Viewers Watch before the Olympics? Part 2. ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Wins Gold

My out-of-the-couch reaction to Mo Farah’s fantastic 10K win on Saturday was a reminder that there are three categories of Olympic Gold:

  • Gold.
    Your garden variety step to the top of the podium.
  • Solid Gold.
    A win that captures very special athletic power and durability.
  • Heavy Gold.
    The Chinese concept for a win that is a turning point for a people or nation. Farah’s 10K, Kathy Freeman’s 400 in Sydney and Liu Xiang’s 110 hurdles at Athens come to mind.

Antiques Roadshow

This Olympic weekend, we turn to the UK Hobbies & Leisure category where Antiques Roadshow earns my Solid Gold medal for placing #1 and #5 on the Top 100 list for 1H 2012.

  • Why is AR such a dependable hit?
  • How can a 35-year strong series be kept fresh?
  • Read on…

 

Antiques Roadshow is one of the most successful franchises in the history of television:

  • UK:
    • It has enjoyed 35 years as a hit series.
  • International versions:
    • US: AR has been the #1 (or close) PBS show for 15+ years.
    • Canada, Sweden and elsewhere.
    • Arguably helped shape US #1 reality hit Pawn Stars and countless imitators.

 

Top 100, Hobbies & Leisure, 1H 2012
Viewers / ‘000

Title Channel Viewers Share
1 Antiques Roadshow BBC 1 7,410.2 28.4
2 MasterChef BBC 1 6,269.0 23.3
3 DIY SOS: The Big Build BBC 1 5,424.3 22.1
4 Top Gear BBC 2 5,294.1 15.4
5 Antiques Roadshow: Diamond Jubilee BBC 1 4,807.2 18.7
6 The RHS Chelsea Flower Show BBC 1 3,498.0 16.3
7 The Hairy Bikers’ Bake-Ation BBC 2 3,220.8 13.0
8 Love Your Garden ITV1 3,215.5 14.1
9 The Restoration Man CH4 2,811.5 10.5
10 Location, Location, Location CH4 2,799.8 10.6
11 Countrywise Kitchen ITV1 2,715.3 12.2
12 Bargain Hunt BBC 1 2,539.0 22.6
13 Homes Under the Hammer BBC 1 2,430.9 26.2
14 Springwatch BBC 2 2,418.8 9.8
15 Gardeners’ World BBC 2 2,398.0 9.3
16 Saturday Kitchen Live BBC 1 2,370.5 27.0
17 The Best of Top Gear BBC 2 2,360.0 8.9
18 Great British Menu BBC 2 2,311.9 10.9
19 Flog It! BBC 2 2,285.7 10.3
20 Antiques Road Trip BBC 2 2,253.8 16.1
21 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is BBC 2 2,202.4 12.4
22 Gok’s Teens: The Naked Truth CH4 2,162.0 8.9
23 Hairy Bikers’ Best of British BBC 2 2,155.9 9.6
24 Come Dine With Me CH4 2,083.0 14.5
25 Our Food BBC 2 2,058.3 8.3
26 Celebrity Antiques Road Rrip BBC 2 2,036.5 8.8
27 Superscrimpers CH4 2,014.6 7.4
28 Britain’s Empty Homes BBC 1 1,951.6 21.0
29 Wanted Down Under BBC 1 1,908.6 28.7
30 Four In a Bed CH4 1,900.6 12.2
31 Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers BBC 1 1,894.4 23.7
32 Come Dine With Me: Extra Portions CH4 1,868.4 9.7
33 Country House Rescue CH4 1,860.1 7.6
34 Gardeners’ World Live BBC 2 1,818.4 6.7
35 Rachel Allen: Home Cooking BBC 1 1,810.6 21.3
36 Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking w Rachel Khoo BBC 2 1,770.4 6.8
37 Four Rooms CH4 1,728.6 6.7
38 Gok Cooks Chinese CH4 1,721.3 6.9
39 Phil Spencer: Secret Agent CH4 1,680.8 6.5
40 Raymond Blanc: Kitchen Secrets BBC 1 1,677.7 23.1
41 Home Cooking Made Easy BBC 2 1,632.1 6.2
42 Wanted Down Under Revisited BBC 1 1,619.6 29.1
43 Britain’s Heritage Heroes BBC 2 1,576.2 7.3
44 Baking Made Easy BBC 2 1,570.7 5.8
45 Dickinson’s Real Deal ITV1 1,561.1 19.4
46 Two Greedy Italians – Still Hungry BBC 2 1,512.1 5.9
47 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is BBC 2 1,440.2 7.7
48 The Hairy Bikers: Mums Know Best BBC 2 1,422.8 6.8
49 Antiques Uncovered BBC 2 1,388.6 5.3
50 Great British Food Revival BBC 2 1,304.2 5.4
51 Hugh’s Three Hungry Boys CH4 1,285.7 4.6
52 Flog it! Ten of the Best BBC 2 1,196.4 13.7
53 May the Best House Win ITV1 1,183.8 15.3
54 60 Minute Makeover ITV1 1,182.6 14.9
55 Something For the Weekend BBC 2 1,143.2 11.3
56 Marco Pierre White’s Kitchen Wars Channel 5 1,013.2 4.2
57 Superscrimpers: Hot Summer Tips CH4 904.8 3.4
58 Sunday Brunch CH4 859.7 9.3
59 Saturday Kitchen Best Bites BBC 2 737.9 8.1
60 Chinese Food in Minutes Channel 5 697.1 5.7
61 Snog Marry Avoid? BBC 3 666.1 3.8
62 Timothy Spall: All at Sea BBC 4 581.1 2.4
63 Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals CH4 552.5 3.2
64 Meals in Moments Channel 5 528.8 4.0
65 Grand Designs More4 526.6 2.3
66 Timothy Spall: Back at Sea BBC 4 518.7 2.0
67 Holiday: Heaven on Earth Channel 5 502.4 2.2
68 Priceless Antiques Roadshow BBC 2 479.9 3.8
69 River Cottage Everyday More4 473.4 1.5
70 The Family Recipe Channel 5 457.9 6.3
71 Grand Designs Australia More4 453.7 1.6
72 Kirstie and Phil’s Embarrasing Bits More4 452.4 2.2
73 House Gift ITV1 450.6 5.5
74 Top Gear Vietnam Special Dave 449 4.6
75 Relocation, Relocation More4 424.4 1.4
76 Auction Hunters (Series 2) Quest 420.7 1.6
77 The Renovation Game CH4 402.5 3.3
78 River Cottage Bites CH4 387.7 4.9
79 Storage Hunters Dave 387.1 1.5
80 The World’s Best Diet ITV2 383.5 1.4
81 See Hear BBC 1 378.3 9.3
82 River Cottage: Gone Fishing More4 373.4 1.5
83 Monty Don’s Italian Gardens BBC 4 369.9 1.4
84 Restoration Man More4 365.1 1.4
85 Three in a Bed USA CH4 363.5 4.7
86 Salvage Hunters Quest 356.2 1.7
87 Jamie Does…Venice More4 351 1.3
88 Petworth House: The Big Spring Clean BBC 4 345.8 1.3
89 Three in a Bed CH4 342 5.6
90 Relocation: Phil Down Under More4 335 1.2
91 A Place in the Sun CH4 333.6 4.6
92 Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare More4 332.5 1.8
93 Secret Location CH4 319.3 5.5
94 A Million Pound Place In the Sun More4 318 1.2
95 Grand Designs Revisited More4 317.9 1.3
96 Phil’s Empty Homes Giveaway More4 315.4 1.2
97 A Place in the Sun: Winter Sun CH4 313.8 6.8
98 One Man and His Campervan BBC 2 302.5 3.7
99 Location x 3: A Decade in Property More4 293.9 1.6
100 Come Dine With Me Footballers Special More4 290.5 1.5

 

Antiques Roadshow Profile

Format

  • Hour
  • Hosted
  • Experts appraise objects brought to a location by the antique-owning public
  • The owners are asked to guess the value of their piece?
  • The antiquarians provide their estimate, often to the shock of the owner

Production Cycle

  • 26 episodes / year
  • 14 locations / year
  • 20+/- pieces / episode
  • 8PM Sunday slot on BBC1
  • 2 specials in past season
    • Remembrance Day
    • Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Clip: The Vase/Junk
(Test your ear for British accents)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYmz-qMvXIQ

Why a Dependable Hit?

We asked several UK programming experts: ‘What makes AR the BBC’s most durable hit nonfiction format?’

Here are some of their answers:

  • ‘Huge charm.’
  • ‘Full of eccentric but relate-able British characters who are owners of pieces or experts.’
  • ‘A guilty pleasure.’
  • ‘Gentle and easily-watched.’
  • ‘Familiar and cosy.’
  • ‘Perfect for 8PM Sunday before the stressful work week begins.’

Genre-blender

AR is a hybrid that involves:

  • Travel to lovely places.’
  • ‘A History series that engages people with the buried treasures of British life.’
  • ‘For several moments each week, a suspenseful guessing Game Show about the value of pieces.’

Talent

  • BBC news reader Fiona Bruce is ‘very likeable and enthusiastic, yet authoritative.’

How does the BBC team keep AR fresh?

  • Evolving Tone
    • The exchanges between public and experts are less formal.
    • Experts are ‘slightly less academic’ and more relate-able.
    • But NOISY characters are not invited!
  • New Features
    • More ‘change pieces’ (40-50 seconds) are being added before the ‘value surprise’ segment.
    • Example: a sharp exchange of views between two experts about the value of a piece.
    • A Guessing Game Segment, in which viewers guess the very different values of apparently similar objects.
  • Specials
    • The Remembrance and Jubilee specials were ratings and critical successes.
  • New Platforms
    • A new AR app will engage live audience in the Guessing Game, and more.
    • Release date: October 2012.
  • Social Media
    • AR is one of the most talked about UK TV series on Twitter.

Spinoff: Fake or Fortune

  • Experts analyze alleged fake works of art and antiques
  • Also hosted by Fiona Bruce.
  • BBC1 Sunday night lead in to AR.

My Big Takeaway: AR Delivers Value!

  • Antiques Roadshow is a ROI (return on investment) powerhouse!
  • It anchors the highly-viewed Sunday night schedule, delivering a massive if older skewing audience, decade after decade.
  • Yet AR‘s production costs are a fraction of BBC Blue Chip factual specials or drama.
  • And AR doesn’t require the higher cost and maintenance demanded by the talent that typically drives hosted cooking and lifestyle programs.

Biggest Challenge

  • Like most public broadcasters, the BBC is cutting budgets across all program categories.
  • Antiques Roadshow currently delivers 26 episodes from shoots on 14 locations.
  • The trick will be to maintain a fresh viewing experience in the face of any future pressures to further cut the # of locations.

More Reading / Videos

Editorial Assistance: Alexander Watson

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