World Cup, Walkers, Hulu and VOD: UK commercial telly is the comeback kid

New figures show that people in the UK are watching more telly than last year (four hours 18 minutes a day from three hours 56 minutes) and they’re even watching more ads, up from 45 to 48 daily.

Hulu, the online video channel owned by News Corp, NBC Universal and Disney has postponed its launch in the UK because home-grown broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 won’t play ball over supplying content, presumably indicating that they feel they can go it alone and finally make some money out of the sector.

Pepsi-owned Walkers is launching a mega TV campaign for the World Cup featuring front man Gary Lineker and a sparkling line-up of celebs – that’s if you consider magician Paul Daniels, presenter Melinda Messenger and former Coronation Street barmaid Julie Goodyear celebs.

As Gary will also be fronting the BBC’s blanket coverage of the competition, doesn’t that count as a conflict of interest by the lights of some obscure bit of the Beeb’s charter? Still, let’s not be spoilsports.

And traditionally cash-strapped Virgin Media has announced it’s to boost its marketing budget by 30 per cent to a stonking £170m to cash in on the boom in video on demand, expected to soar still further with that football competition. Most of this will go to terrestrial rival ITV presumably.

So it’s all happening for the little box in the corner of the room – actually more likely to be a whopping great HD box taking up a whole wall.

And that’s what it all boils down to surely. After years of punishment at the hands of new technology – chiefly the internet – now it’s time for telly to benefit from technology, in particular the ability of our friends in the Far East to manufacture what used to be called home cinema kits astonishingly cheaply.

That, plus the ability to watch just about anything you like whenever you like through VOD has brought the medium back with a vengeance.

My colleague David O’Reilly wrote recently that new ITV CEO Adam Crozier (he started last week) was a lucky boy in terms of his timing (and his salary of course).

Damn right, for a few months at least ITV looks like it will revert to the old days when its only problems were squeezing all the ads in and remembering to collect the money.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.