Types of news by time of day

Handy, Classy, Spicy… News Power


The tree types of TV news

We sometimes think of news in terms of newspaper positioning – tabloid, broadsheet or whatever the Daily Mail is.  A more useful way to classify news might be in terms of what it does for its consumer. In one project in India we were trying to understand what was the best positioning for the BBC’s news bulletins.  We found that news fitted into three types:

1. Handy news.  That is, news you can use.

Weather, traffic, information about whether the world is safe for you or your children to explore today.  Metro and local newspapers comes to mind.  Breakfast TV seems to operate in this space, and if the plans for local TV stations ever delivers programming, it would sit in this space.

2. Spicy news.  News that gets you talking, or stimulates you in some way.

It can include celebrity gossip, or something scandalous or involving heroes or villains.  Very popular in India, we found.  The sort of news the tabloids are best at – and it’s interesting that breakfast TV doesn’t sell itself this way.  In fact, a British version of Fox News might not sit well with Ofcom it’s a little surprising that no-one has successfully launched a populist news channel or programme – did Live TV scare people too much? The 10 O’Clock News Show, and even Mock the Week offer this on terrestrial TV, and there is the occasional Russell Howard or Marcus Brigstocke series on BBC3/4 item on but these are within tightly scheduled runs, and from the comedy genre, rather than delivering a daily dose (Daily Show style).  Ideally, you might want a TV version of the front half of Private Eye, only less clubby…

3. Classy news.  News that makes you think about something differently, or helps you to understand the world better.

This could be something analytical such as Panorama, Despatches, Newsnight and so on. The main news bulletins, when they’re on their game.  We do this sort of TV very well.  News with substance.  International news often seems to sit here because its potential audience is smaller and more rarified…

So, Handy, Spicy, Classy.  Like a spice girls reunion starring Charlie Dimmock, Mel B and Rachel Riley off’ve Countdown.   But for news, a satisfyingly simple typology, I’m hope you’ll agree. And fairly neutral – they’re all good in balance. Seeing news segmented in this way made it easier for us to to see where we could compete and where we really couldn’t.

(in case you were wondering, the BBC’s best option in India was to concentrate on classy news…).

And one interesting thing is that they seem to fit certain types of day – at least on TV (newspapers seem able to fit them into a single proposition).  No-one wants classy news on television in the morning.  In the evening, handy news is a little underpowered. Spicy news is great when you can share it with others – so it’s left to the internet to deliver this to people at work – and it seems to work in newspapers, but not really on TV in the morning.

The BBC has conducted more sophisticated studies exploring audience needs for news and how they fit particular audience types and situations.  But for a basic starting point, the handy, classy and spicy typology is a neat way to understand how news can be segmented.






* In the UK

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