This week saw the launch of yet another new morning show by a major broadcaster.
Surely not another reworking of the UK ITV Daybreak format I hear you ask?
No, in this case the change that I am referring to took place in the USA, when CBS replaced the perennial also-ran of the US breakfast TV wars (constant laggard behind NBC’s Today show and ABC’s Good Morning America), the CBS Early Show, with its new CBS This Morning Show.
Hardly a seminal moment you might quite fairly comment. Especially as the CBS Early Show itself was the newest of the three major network morning shows, and when it was introduced in 1999 it promised a revolution over its predecessor, the staid unsuccessful show called CBS This Morning.
Yes, that’s right. History is now repeating itself, and CBS is promising its viewers a new revolution, albeit with a back to the future name.
It would be easy to look at this as just an example of yet another sign of the decline of the news operation of the once great Ed Murrow network. But while it undoubtedly is just that, it is also symbolic of the trend hitting the breakfast magazine format show across the world.
The much ballyhooed debacle of Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley’s crashing and burning on UK ITV’s Daybreak show has in many ways been noticed for the wrong reasons.
Yes, I wonder whoever thought that Adrian Chiles’ face would be something that anyone would want to spend much time looking at in the morning. With hindsight, any scheduler worth their salt should have thought about the fact that famous names have consistently failed in the morning slot, whereas new fresh faces seem to have a much greater potential to thrive.
But I would argue that the Chiles/Bleakley failure and CBS’ problems are just symptoms of the same bigger phenomenon.
In an era of ever more pressured time in the morning, and ever more available on-the-move media, who is it any more who wants to sit through a mixed magazine format show, not knowing whether what they are going to see next is the weather, an interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer or a discussion about Pippa Middleton’s new swimsuit with a ‘Royal guru’? (Don’t you love ‘em? The ultimate example of turning v little talent, but being vaguely posh into a career path.)
CBS, get ready for This Morning to disappoint, just like its predecessors.
It’s hard for TV broadcasters to accept, but the morning slot is now well and truly the ultimate example of channel segmentation at its sharpest.
Live in a crowded public transport dominated city like London and free paper, the podcast or the Kindle are perfect media for the epic commute. Live in a driving city and, after rushing out the door, it is the radio station of your choice that is your constant companion. And only possibly the retired and student population (although I suspect many of those won’t wake till later) might choose the random magazine show that once seemed so appealing in the era of three TV channels, one independent radio station per town and no internet.
In the UK Channel 4 recognised long ago that it is commercially more effective for them to offer rehashed sitcoms in the morning than invest in yet another breakfast show. The BBC will forever persist with news (or else why on earth should it exist?), but I predict the next battle between ITV and the regulator will be to give up the ghost on the morning news meets entertainment show, and before long we’ll be watching streamed “I’m a celebrity” in the morning, just as we do on so many evenings.
And while no fan of z-list celebs in the jungle myself, after watching a recent Daybreak I have to ask the question; would we really be any worse off if the show were to disappear?