Earlier this month TV powerhouses ITV, Channel 4 and Sky came together to make history by collaborating on the industry’s first ever joint TV event. Together with the help of Thinkbox, the three broadcasters launched The Big TV Festival, an exclusive two-day event which took place in Blackwood Forest, Hampshire. Around 150 of the media industry’s rising stars were accompanied by broadcasters, commissioners, directors, creative heads and analysts to discuss the current and future state of TV.

The festival – ably co-hosted by Scarlett Moffatt and Jamie Laing – featured talks from some of advertising’s most influential and forward-thinking individuals, including the likes of Rory Sutherland (OgilvyOne), Kate Waters (Now), Chaka Sobhani (Leo Burnett) and Rosie Arnold (AMV BBDO). Topics covered across the two-day event included content, creativity, effectiveness and innovation, all of which served to underpin an overall understanding of TV as the key media channel for brand growth.

Naturally, it wouldn’t have been a TV showcase without some programming, and each of the three broadcasters leapt at the chance to flaunt some 2018 highlights. ITV shared the upcoming period drama Vanity Fair, a high-budget adaptation of William Thackery’s classic 1848 novel. A collaboration with Amazon (who will distribute the show via its Prime service), Vanity Fair provides an example of how broadcasters are adapting to the changing TV landscape and the demand from audiences for high-quality content.

In another collaboration, Channel 4 unveiled its upcoming Netflix co-pro Kiss Me First. The curious new six-part drama from the creator of Skins tells the story of Leila, a 17-year-old who is addicted to an online gaming site. Sky’s trailer was for Save Me – its latest Sky Atlantic drama which airs in the coming weeks featuring the ubiquitous Suranne Jones alongside Daniel Adegboyega.

Two of the most insightful talks were led by Now’s Kate Waters and Ebiquity’s Nick Pugh. The latter stressed the importance of the long-term impact of advertising, outlining that only 42% of advertising effects can be felt in the weeks and months following a campaign. Waters expanded on this, encouraging a move away from immediate ‘real time’ marketing in favour of long term growth. To the delight of the broadcasters, Pugh also demonstrated recent Ebiquity findings that not only attribute the highest levels of ROI to TV but also labelled the media channel as the least risky.

A summary of the inaugural Big TV Festival would not be complete without a nod to Rory Sutherland. The eccentric OgilvyOne Chairman brought a fresh perspective to proceedings, encouraging advertisers to abandon logic and explore lateral thinking. Indeed, the eclectic mix of talks across the two-day period worked well, inspiring and engaging attendees.

Rather than a hard TV sell, the Big TV Festival represented a collaborative discussion and sharing of ideas. Kudos therefore to Thinkbox and the three heavy-hitting broadcasters, as they acknowledge how the industry is changing – users just aren’t consuming content like Homer Simpson on his family’s brown sofa any more.

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