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Top of the flops

The BBC’s new primetime music show ‘Sounds Like Friday Night’ has been met with mixed reactions from across the industry and the wider public.

The six part series, conceived as a cross between Top of the Pops and Saturday Night Live and presented by Radio 1’s Greg James and Radio 1Xtra’s Dotty, features various comedy sketches, live music performances and interviews. It has featured performances from the likes of Jason Derulo and Dizzee Rascal, with the first episode attracting respectable average audience ratings of 2.2m.

By way of comparison, ITV’s Coronation Street attracts an average audience of 6.8 million viewers and A Question of Sport, which regularly takes the same slot on BBC One, averages three million viewers per episode. Those shows clearly have a much broader demographic than a specialist music show.

The real question is- in the era of Netflix, Spotify and YouTube, is there even a space for such a show, however well produced and delivered? There is no doubt that the BBC does this type of show and many others very well but the music and entertainment landscape is completely un-recognisable from the one that TOTP or TFI Friday launched in.

As consumers have largely moved on from ‘event’ TV tied to schedules to watching and listening to what they want when they want, what purpose does it serve? The sound of your Friday night is more likely to be the opening title music of Stranger Things or another slightly overhyped Netflix original show. If you want to watch live music in your living room, you can find plenty of high quality full concerts on YouTube.

Such TV appearances can boost and artist’s profile, sales and streams and there remains an appetite for live music, evidenced by the endurance of Later..With Jools Holland or the impressive viewing figures for Glastonbury, which hit an average high of 2.9m during Ed Sheeran’s set this year.

However, without a pure emphasis on either music or comedy, the show is a halfway house. This is perhaps a concession to millennial attention spans but that is an audience who arguably aren’t even aware this show exists.

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