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If you watch sports on television, as I do
- yes I do, actually:
football's not the only sport in the world, you know
- then you may like me have been irritated by that
thing they do when the broadcaster that films the footage
stamps its logo indelibly in the corner,
and then the broadcaster who buys it from them
blurs it out before putting their own logo
in another whole corner.
Why is this necessary?
I can see how it began -
broadcaster one thinking they'd come up
with a scheme whereby they can
force broadcaster two to advertise them.
But once broadcaster two retorts
with their brilliant 'blurring' gambit,
why doesn't broadcaster one just shrug,
say to itself 'Ah well. It was worth a try',
and then provide the footage without the logo?
They are not now getting any advertising
they're just making the viewer endure a
distracting blurry bit in the corner of the screen.
Is it just spite?
Alternatively, why doesn't broadcaster two,
once it becomes clear broadcaster one
is not going to stop putting their logo on,
shrug, say to itself, 'Well, what's the harm?'
and leave the logo unblurred?
A logo is far less distracting than a blurry mess,
and it's not as if the viewer is going to be
so impressed by the logo
they're going to rush off to Belgium
or wherever broadcaster one does its broadcasting,
so they can watch this amazing footage
straight from the hands of the auteurs who shot it.
Between them, the two broadcasters
are making the experience of their product
worse for viewers. Why?
Are the people who do the blurring powerfully unionised?
Why else would the broadcasters
do that to their customers?
I suppose because the viewers are,
in fact, not the customers
- the advertisers are the customers.
The viewers, for every broadcaster except the BBC,
are the product, which the broadcaster
is selling to the advertisers.
Of course, this has always been the case,
but in the past it at least felt like a
symbiotic relationship, whereby
whereby the viewers accepted the
presence of adverts in the programme,
because the revenue from advertising
paid to make the programmes.
And while that central fact is still true,
it increasingly feels like the viewer-advertiser
relationship is less symbiotic and more parasitic.
Whereby the viewers are essentially
tricked into watching adverts.
I'm not against adverts,
I think there's nothing much wrong with them,
apart from the immoral ones about
face creams and personal injury lawyers.
But in general, I don't see the problem
in a company buying you something you want,
in return for telling you about a thing it makes.
Hence the sponsorship of this podcast -
fourteen seconds of looking at a computer
in return for three minutes of me
in a red shirt being grumpy.
Ok, when I put it like that,
it doesn't sound such a great deal.
But my point is, there's nothing inherently wrong
with the practice of advertising.
But the sharkish practices of the broadcasters
are understandably making people think there is.
Viewer as product is certainly a logical conclusion,
but it's not the only logical conclusion,
and it's not even the best of them,
just as in nature parasitism is
an inferior solution to symbiosis.
After all, mosquitos get swatted,
whereas those little birds that clean crocodiles' teeth
- everyone loves those guys!
Having said that, I have just looked up
the relative population numbers
of mosquitoes and Egyptian Plovers.
It's a bit depressing.
of mosquitoes and Egyptian Plovers.