It has often occurred to me that TV companies don't make enough of their content, particularly in relation to films. You will often come across a truly great film either sandwiched inbetween soap operas or tucked away at midnight on one of their smaller channels. This was brought home to me again recently when I watched Wong Kar-Wai's Ashes of Time (Redux) on Film 4. It is a sumptuous film (and I haven't seen the original, which film buffs, naturally, say is vastly superior to the Redux version). Watching it I wanted to know more (partly to figure out what was going on, but also because you know it's a film that excites comment), so I browsed the IMDB reference, and also came across these interviews with the director on YouTube.
Now on TV you might get a 10 second introduction from the announcer and that's it. Why couldn't they put together some discussion or analysis programme before a film? They'd be dead cheap to make – you get some film buffs in a room and let them talk. This isn't going to be a massive draw, I accept, but if you trailer it enough it pulls in an extra audience for the film, it makes the showing of the film more of an event. And then you have maybe one of the experts interacting on twitter while the film is showing. Making TV an event is the new name of the game. My feeling though is that broadcasters are generally scared of anything vaguely 'intellectual' and underestimate their audience.
Sports TV has been good at wringing value from its content – as a football fan I used to watch a programme in which Jimmy Hill sat around with four newspaper journalists and they talked about the sports reporting in newspapers for an hour. It has to be the cheapest form of television around, and yet for a certain audience, it's worthwhile.
In a world where content is free and abundant I think there is a bigger message in this, beyond me wanting a film-bore bonanza. So here is my content-value advice: When there is lots of content it makes all content seem devalued, but the way to add value to content is to add more content to it, to provide context and interpretation. And if there isn't something in this for educators, then we're all wasting our time.