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5 content lessons from Blue Planet II

11/27/2017
— Harry Langdon 

You tend to find people have a mix of emotions on a Sunday. Some people get a sense of pride for having had a productive day, perhaps a nice walk in the park – for me, it is usually the sudden realisation and shame that it is 4pm and all I have done is move from the bedroom to the sofa. However, there is a moment in the day that brings pure joy to the entire nation: when, at 7.30pm, you realise Blue Planet II is on in the next half an hour and life is worth living again.

So why (and how) does this programme captivate such a large and varied audience?

Blue Planet II has found the winning combination when it comes to delivering content – and it’s one that we can learn from. Here are the top 5 reasons we tune in again and again:

Unique content

Progressing hand in hand with technology, Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series is known for its unique vantage points and quality of content when it comes to filming animals in areas of the world we only dream of venturing. Viewers have now come to expect this level of progression from the programme as it raises the bar every series.  

Consistency

I feel like I could sum this up by talking solely about Sir David Attenborough’s dulcet voiceover …but I won’t. Although his voice could make even a wolverine purr, we all know there is a substantial amount of behind-the-scenes planning that goes into the narrative and structure of the programme.

We can rely on humour in elements of the carefully scripted narrative, and gorgeous music – this time written by Hans Zimmer and Radiohead – alongside the incredible filmmaking we’ve come to expect from Blue Planet. While production has enhanced, this recognizable formula has remained the same since Blue Planet first aired in 2001 and is why the show has become a global phenomenon that makes viewers giddy with anticipation.

Timing

In a similar fashion to when I upload my Instagram photos for maximum ‘likes’, Blue Planet II is aired on Sunday evening. Initially, this might not have seemed like a game changer. But when you take into account that it has consistently been aired on a Sunday evening (when people are most likely to be free) for the last few years, it is now associated with a relaxed night in before the week starts again.

Indeed, it is a programme we’ve come to depend on to set us up for the week ahead.

Insight

For the curious viewers among us, Blue Planet II always shares insight into the lengths the production crew go to to capture the content – proving that this type of ground-breaking content isn’t easy to come by and is in fact unique to them and the hard work put in to achieve it.

By doing this, the creators manage to bring to life a world that can often feel remote and supernatural. Working with four scientific advisers from the Open University, the series is infused with new discoveries and rich scientific insights that has drawn in a younger audience eager to learn more. The first episode pulled in 2.3m 16- to 34- year-olds – nearly one million more than The X Factor.

Social good

The progamme is also in a perfect position to shed light on the repercussions of ocean pollution. The beauty of visual content is that the compelling message is communicated in a powerful and emotional way that doesn’t alienate.

By showcasing real animals in danger, it inspires viewers to take action – particularly as they grow an emotional attachment throughout the programme. The fact that it is done without agenda and in a non-politicised way has proven extremely effective.

Communicators will always have something to learn from David Attenborough’s well-established TV series. Whether it be unique content or the timeliness of the show, there is certainly a remedy for success when it comes to capturing the nation’s attention.

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