The Magic Box – how YouTube plan to take over your TV

I would count myself as a third generation TV viewer.

The first generation were blown away by the fact that they could watch the moving image in the luxury of their own home, the second generation lived in a time when each of the three channels were targeting a particular demographic and the third generation demand entertaining.

And why shouldn’t they? I have the choice of multiple channels and it’s up to the programme makers to persuade me to watch their creations.


Entertain me! Or I’ll switch channels. I’m not wowed by your magic box anymore.


Sticky shots

As part of my mentality as a third generation TV viewer, if the programme I’m watching doesn’t engage me then I’ll start channel hopping again to find another one. This has made me a fickle individual, but programme makers and advertisers know this and they know that they need to grab my attention as I flit through the channels.

For this they use ‘sticky shots’. These are shots that programme makers use that will effectively grab your attention as you’re scanning (or fast forwarding through adverts).  Once you’ve stalled it is then up to the programme to keep you engaged and the rules of engagement have changed considerably through the years  – let me illustrate by using two extreme examples:


Example 1

Here’s a shot from “Highway”  from the olden days . . . scoot  forwards to 60 seconds in and see how long you last !!!


The train going into a tunnel shot lasts 36 seconds (it also been used in the title sequence!).

Nowadays our minds have adapted to being bombarded with shots that last a number of seconds creating a fast paced sequence which communicates a vast amount of information in a limited space of time:


Example 2

A Stella Advert from a few years back:


Within the first 36 seconds of this commercial a scene has been set, a storyline developed and 3 characters established. There were also 21 different shots. My eyes are magnetised to the screen as I want to see how this story develops. It’s adverts like these that have moulded our current need for instant understanding by using fast editing techniques, multiple shots and story telling within our creations.

All the successful programmes do it – CSI, Sherlock and even cookery programmes all incorporate these techniques and others (including animation) to engage the viewer.


The fourth generation

Of course, now looming upon us is the fourth TV generation and with that we have the ability to ignore/skip conventional adverts, instantly engage in conversation (and share) with anyone the world over about the programme you are watching. They have multiple platforms for watching whatever they want, whenever they want to.

This has had a huge effect on the way that we watch entertainment whether online or on the box.

Programme makers and advertisers have responded to this change in demand, pace and wants by incorporating a big ‘social’ and ‘engagement’ element to ensure they get the views. How talked about is Strictly Come Dancing?

We are now reaching a time where, if you are in advertising (which any business owner is), creating sticky shots and engaging films is crucial to any successful campaign.

I believe that the Stella advert above is a classic example of third generation advertising, whereas the ‘Old Spice’ advert below is 4th generation. It engages and encourages the viewer to share and watch again and again and again:


If you are anything like us (or even slightly more normal) marvel at the psychology behind adverts and programmes and look for their ‘sticky shots’  and then, count your blessings that we have evolved from being entertained by watching the same train going into a tunnel twice.

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