The team and I found out yesterday that the planned series four of It Pays To Watch on Five isn’t going to happen.
It was quite likely to be the last series anyway, as I’d already discussed that the additional workload it added was too much, but that’s been overtaken by commercial pressures from new management at five which means there’s no budget for a show like It Pays To Watch (and quite a number of others) in the new agenda. Quite bizarre that the credit crunch programme’s been credit crunched.
Personally my feelings are mixed; I’m sad to see such a worthwhile public service programme go, but I’ve been overcommitted for a long time and am relieved I may only need to work six days a week at the start of 2009.
My real sadness is for the team who will now need to find new contracts. To them I want to say thank you for such an amazing effort. Some will be spending a little bit of time at MoneySavingExpert, on a few projects I have for them, but many will look for pastures new.
How can this happen to a successful show?
The show was strong, successful & original, and it rated strongly. Yet five has come under new management since the last programme and like any business, its bosses want to take a new strategic direction – and that is invariably a more commercial stance.
The three big problems with It Pays To Watch were as follows:
- No sponsorship. Most non-news programmes on commercial TV are sponsored these days. It was something that was discussed with me, but I felt very uncomfortable about its impact on the editorial content.
- Non-repeatability. The show was recorded two hours before transmission, and had no repeatability factor. By that I don’t mean it can’t be shown that week, but that the same series can’t be reshown six months later, or sold on to another country. These days in TV, when a show is paid for the aim is to get four or five further showings out of it. With It Pays To Watch that wasn’t possible.
- Programme strategy. Of course there’s also a change of programming strategy, and five seems to be moving back towards its more tabloid origins. On that basis, It Pays To Watch is no longer fit for the channel.
On the bright side, I’m currently discussing recutting some of the videos and using the production team to add a lot of video content to articles on this site.
And frankly I have about 25 programme pitches from production companies sitting waiting to be looked at for a new series.
Overall though, RIP It Pays To Watch, and thanks to all who sailed in her.