On to Something

Small Screen: Home and Away
October 1, 2004

Small Screen: Home and Away

It has finally happened – spots have become docs. Last November, U.S. net ESPN began a marketing campaign that sent N.Y. ad agency The Concept Farm on the road to interview sports fans across the U.S. In nine months, they gathered over 1,000 interviews from their ‘FUVs’ – Fan Utility Vehicles – which transported an interviewer, a cameraperson and a sound recordist. When the richness of the material became apparent, both parties decided to turn it into editorial content. Home and Away, a 30-minute special featuring candid interviews with these armchair umpires, earned a .24 rating (the channel’s daily average) when it aired on ESPN2 September 7.

DVD: The Up Series

It began in 1964 in the commissioning corridors of Granada Television and grew to become a seminal doc about 20th century life. Even director Michael Apted considers his Seven Up series (which revisits its original 14 subjects every seven years, from age seven) the most important work he’ll ever do. After years spent trying to clear the necessary rights, First Run Features will release a DVD box set of all six films in the series – Seven Up, 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up and 42 Up. Extra features include Apted’s commentary for 42 Up and a photo gallery for each film. Start saving your pennies, the US$99.95 set will be released October 19.

Internet: Microsoft TV

It’s called Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), and it uses an upgraded phone line to deliver TV signals. Telecom service and broadband providers are hoping it will save their shrinking bottom line by moving them into the TV market. Last month, 600 Swiss homes began a four-month trial of IPTV. Helmed by Bluewin, a subsid of Swisscom, the test began with an initial offering of 25 TV channels, delivered via ADSL. The bandwidth required is about 1.2 to 1.5 Mbits/sec, or about double the speed of most such connections in Europe. The venture is scheduled to become a commercial reality by 2005. Could it be? Is convergence drawing near?

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.