ITV – The Talkability of Content


the challenge

ITV theorised that shows released on subscription video on demand (SVOD) services received high levels of ‘talkability’ in relation to their actual viewership and when compared to the buzz created by the launch of new TV content, including their own. This project was about understanding the extent and potential impact of this with a view to informing the ITV Content Marketing team about what they could do to boost their own programmes’ talkability.

what we did

Firstly we aimed to test the extent to which the hypothesis (that SVOD shows are more talked about) was true. Once we were confident in that, we sought to break down what this ‘talk’ was – its sources and purpose – before exploring what ITV could learn and implement.

how we did it

We spoke with industry experts to look at (among other things) viewer attitudes and behaviours, the power of word-of-mouth and the near-future TV/content landscape.

We conducted a thorough audit of trends in culture that impacted on viewership and ‘chat’ as well as reviewing how SVOD content providers launch and promote their content.

Finally we spoke with six friendship triads (across a mix of ages and locations) to understand why, how and when people talk about viewed content.

We sent a short reel teaser film out to the ITV team in advance of the debrief to capture their interest.

the results

We saw that love for content was broadly comparable across SVOD services and ITV, and that in fact ‘talk’ in the traditional sense was also similar…but that SVOD content appeals much more to an audience who naturally share online (and is hence more visible and more easily shareable). This audience (teens to early twenties) are eager to latch onto something and SVOD content can provide that, being either controversial, novel or loosely topical and easy to consume in one hit.

SVOD services support this online talk by creating bespoke content accounts and encouraging/allowing their talent to utilise social media and by recognising the ‘commitment’ of fans by responding to them online. Also, as this audience are generally attractive as consumers, other brands piggyback on this web content of their own (thought pieces on The Guardian, lists on Buzzfeed, memes etc.) to become a part of the conversation.

the team


Chris Haydon

Senior Research Director, Spirit

Hollie Clark

Research Manager, Spirit

client quote


“The work carried out by Join the Dots has been very beneficial to ITV. The ramifications of these findings will be felt across a variety of departments, including marketing, commissioning and planning.

The findings helped to confirm what we thought we knew as well as uncovering knowledge that we didn’t know before – the mark of a good research project.

From the moment we met with JtD, we were impressed, and this continued throughout the project. Both Hollie and Chris kept in regular contact and were able to effectively communicate the findings to a variety of stakeholders. We look forward to working with them again in the future, and would implore you to do likewise.”

Mat Riches
Brand Research Manager Audiences
ITV