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The Great British Switch Off

The Great British Bake Off’s move to Channel 4 caused more upset to TV viewers than a Bakewell with a soggy bottom. The icing on the cake was presenters Sue and Mel and show icon Mary Berry announcing that they too were leaving. It seems that Paul Hollywood will stay with the show.

Why is there such distress at the programme switching channel and how likely is it to impact viewing figures?

The majority of the public assume C4 will overkill the format with various celebrity editions. This claim ignores the fact that the BBC version already has celebrity and kids varieties. Viewer snobbery also plays a part – a programme deemed a British institution may sit next to ‘Naked Attraction’ in the schedule.

How have other programmes dealt with a channel switch? The last series of Big Brother was averaging 2-3 million viewers compared to the initial 1.5 million average on C5. In 2012, BBC cut Something for the Weekend before C4 picked it up as Sunday Brunch. As a result, ratings fell from an average of 1 million to 500,000. Neighbours also left the BBC in 2007 with a 2.5 million average audience before moving to C5 where viewers fell to the 600-800k it experiences now.

All Response Media Viewpoint

From an advertising point of view, it is of course great news that The Great British Bake Off is moving to a commercial station, bringing with it some of its current audience particularly when that audience is generally harder to reach. This year it has reached an average of 7.6 million adults and 5 million ABC1 adults…1 million of them in London.

Even if the show can bring in half of the viewers it does on the BBC, it will help alleviate some pressure on increasing advertising revenues freeing up more airtime outside of peak hours.

Undoubtedly, there will be product placement opportunities. Before, Love productions were forced to stop getting the fridges ‘loaned for free’ and any affiliation between the two severed when viewers pointed out that it wasn’t very non-commercial of them.

The show offers some good opportunities for advertisers to reach a TV-light audience – at an incredibly high premium – but there will surely be a drop in viewing and potentially some viewer animosity towards the brands taking advantage of this, but as they say…the proof of the pudding is in the eating.