Apparently, Jonathan Ross is a “national treasure” and the BBC have described him as one of the most important “talents” in the business. So just how popular is he?
Well, his flagship Friday night programme achieves just over 3m viewers. That’s less than Newsnight and around the same as a daytime TV show. So even in TV terms, he’s not that popular.
But compared with blogs, his audience pales into insignificance. According to ComScore’s latest research blogs are read by over 14m people in the UK. That means that 40% of UK Internet users are readers of blogs. And, on average, each of those blog readers are looking at 13 blogs per month. Now, that’s the kind of loyalty and audience level that the BBC would really love for Jonathan Ross.
We sometimes get things out of perspective and this is a great example. Much of the UK population – including those who run online businesses – were brought up with TV as central to their lives. Many of us even think it’s not Christmas any more without Morecambe and Wise slap bang in the middle of the TV schedule, for instance.
However, what we are witnessing is a dramatic shift in entertainment and information delivery, with the Internet replacing TV as the single most important medium in many people’s lives. People over the age of 30 tend to wish they could get “TV sized” audiences – but in reality nowadays, Internet audiences are often much, much bigger.
Years ago, peak-time TV audiences in the UK were measured in tens of millions. Getting 20m viewers on a Saturday night was commonplace. Nowadays the likes of X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing get national news headlines when they get 10m viewers. In other words, times have changed substantially – the biggest audience for your business is now online, not on TV. Don’t – like the BBC – get your perspective wrong. They think Jonathan Ross is their biggest talent; they are wrong, their biggest talent is the editor of their news web site which gets a far, far bigger audience.
Now I wonder if the BBC’s online editor Steve Herrmann gets more than Jonathan Ross’s reputed £18m? I doubt it – but if the BBC is to reward talent on audience size, he surely should get much, much more.