NEWS15 March 2016

‘I don’t think I’ve ever spent any money on focus groups or market research’

Leisure & Arts Media News UK

UK - Richard Osman, the creative director of Endemol TV and co-host of BBC One’s Pointless, says that in spite of an obsessive love of TV ratings data, he has never “spent any money on focus groups or market research to develop new television formats”.


Osman was being interviewed onstage by Marc Brenner, journalist and former editor of Research magazine, at the culmination of the first day of the MRS’s annual conference, Impact 2016.

While Osman professed to a fascination with statistics, as the creative head of a company that develops programme ideas and which is behind shows including Deal or No Deal, his relationship with market research is limited.

"We occasionally do market research," he said. "When we did a programme called The Million Pound Drop, a small daytime show, the new guy at Channel 4 was very keen on market research and he said the audience should come to the pilot to fill in detailed questionnaires about what they thought.

"We thought fine. So we sat around and watched this thing, wondering what people would say. We got all the forms back at the end and 75% of the feedback said ‘Could we have seats to sit down on.’ No one said anything about the format.

"Next year it was the most profitable show on Channel 4 and still no one was sitting down."

Osman also talked about ratings, and how some in the TV industry misinform using "this perfect set of data"; and while he is a keen Tweeter, he admits that "in terms of TV, it’s meaningless, Twitter has no impact on ratings".

"Whenever something trends highly on Twitter, people think it must have an impact, but it never does. It’s such a self-selecting group of people."