The newest edition to ITV’s morning line up, Daybreak, launched last week, to much fanfare. Fizzing with Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley’s chemistry (apparently), we were promised something different and exciting that would kick the tired old GMTV format into obscurity. The reviews that followed were mixed – to put it kindly.
But whether or not Daybreak is the perfect accompaniment to your cornflakes, it’s difficult to spot how it’s significant different, over and above the purple sofas and new backdrop.
It was actually the 10.30am slot in ITV’s schedule that caught my eye. On the same day, This Morning launched its new interactive ‘Hub’. No more drab phone-in rooms hidden away but a buzzy extension of the main studio hosted by dedicated presenter. Holly and Phil even pop in on a daily basis.
Viewers can now email, Facebook and tweet the show and their instant reactions and comments are regularly aired with frequent visits to the Hub. As it’s a part of the main studio, filmed webchats with celebrity guests can take place as soon as they get up from the famous sofa. And as it’s been designed to have more of a backstage vibe, the guests seem to be more relaxed and, hopefully, more themselves.
OK, so This Morning isn’t the first show to encourage viewers to get in touch and they’re not breaking any new ground with the channels used. But what they have done is shown the audience what an important role they play – by using simple mechanics to virtually bring them onto the studio floor. Online allows them almost the same level of contact with guests as the presenters. And this forms part of an overall well-worked social strategy.
The show tweets snippets from the hub, videos of behind the scenes footage quickly posted on their site, Facebook comments and of course Holly and Phil’s own twitpics from the set. All of which help viewers get closer to the action from the comfort of their own home and by using channels that are a regular part of their media mix. Interactive and integrated might be much-used and abused buzzwords but I think they really are apt here.