Institute for Screen Industries Research


Connecting Viewers with Content project

This project examines new strategies for ‘connecting viewers with content’ in a multi-platform media landscape. Its main goal is to find out how TV promotion and design have changed to respond to the new on-demand, everywhere possibilities of watching television in the digital era.

Specific objectives are to compare the different strategies for managing the broadcast experience adopted by public service broadcasters in the UK and the free-to-air networks in the US; and to identify the challenges of contemporary TV-digital promotion, in particular how to enable viewers to navigate rich visual and multi-platform environments. 

The project involved analysis of primetime television from BBC1, ITV, Channel 4 in the UK, and CBS, NBC and Fox in the US.

Project Overview

The project involves:

Detailed analysis of a sample of primetime television from BBC1, ITV and Channel 4 in the UK and CBS, NBC, ABS and Fox in the US from 1982 to 2010. Specifically, focused on the use of network and station IDs, programme promos and other continuity strategies, including hot switching, cold starts, in programme pointers (IPPs) and more;
Seven-month collaboration with Red Bee Media, one of the world’s leading digital media and broadcast design companies (recent winner of a Promax Gold award for its Facebook app for FX International). Specially, observations and analysis of core Red Bee projects, including:
  • Multi-platform promotion, following Red Bee’s work in drama, sports, children, and media promotion from pitch to deployment.
  • User-interface design, focusing on the user experience design of content discovery systems.
  • Brand identity projects, following work for a major television company.
A ‘hothouse’ between leading scholars, telecommunications and media companies (including Red Bee, BT, BBC Vision and small/medium enterprises) on social television, focusing on viewer connectivity and how media/corporate brands pursue promotional effectiveness through a variety of media platforms and social networking.



Network/channel branding:
  • In the UK channels are constructed with clear brand personalities through IDs produced in a range of variations that can be adapted, updated and transferred onto multiple media. They are designed to entertain and arrest the attention of viewers and encourage journeys across the different platforms owned by the broadcaster;
  • In the US, channel/network branding is largely relegated to the logos  displayed at the ends of trailers, DOGs (digital on-screen graphics or BUGs) and IPPs;
  • Channel/network identities remain central in helping viewers to find and navigate content in broadcast and non-linear environments.
Programme promotion and share maintenance:

  • In the UK, interstitial space is used to promote channels as much as programmes and there is limited use of IPPs and DOGs within programmes;
  • In the US, programme promotion is more common than channel promotion. There is a greater emphasis on share maintenance through the use of hot switching (removing the breaks between programmes), and promotional material is now commonly placed over the broadcast programmes (IPPs). Promotion in multi-platform environment (websites, apps etc) is relatively limited.

    Conclusions and Recommendations

    Project conclusions and recommendations:
    The construction of channels as personality brands communicated through entertaining station IDs has significant value for networks because:
    • they frame the experience of television viewing across multiple platforms.
    • they can be used to stimulate loyalty and user-generated creativity.
    • audiences find station IDs entertaining.
    The project would therefore recommend:
    • That networks enhance the role and presence of IDs within the channel’s brand strategy through the development of IDs that combine entertainment and variation with design elements that can be easily transferred to other platforms and;
    • Optimize the value of IDs in multi-platform viewing environments by developing design packages for station IDs that can be adapted and developed for different programmes, platforms and schedules;
    • The use of IPPs in broadcast television disturbs programme viewing, potentially driving audiences to seek alternative platforms for network viewing. The project would therefore recommend that networks limit their use of IPPs and make them less intrusive by integrating them into the design aesthetic of the network and reducing their size and use of sound;
    • Audiences need increasing help to find content in a fragmented media landscape. Networks need to explore ways of using creative design, as well as metadata, to facilitate this. To this end, the project would recommend that networks facilitate collaboration and communication between ‘creative’ and ‘technology’ departments within its working practices.

    Institute for Screen Industries Research

    The University of Nottingham
    University Park
    Nottingham, NG7 2RD