There are not many forms of media that can reach and engage such a large international audience, as television does. The thrill that you are one of millions of people watching an international event that makes the world stop – the royal wedding, when a tragedy strikes, New Year’s Eve celebrations, sporting events and most popular of all, The Olympics. It’s that sense of liveness that engages millions of viewers across the world, the event is happening now and you are as informed as someone across the world through the medium of television. It has the ability to make the ordinary the extraordinary with such a large scale audience and by watching it you are participating in the international community.
There are also some types of people who watch such events because of the element of unpredictability. Many people caught their breath during the royal wedding when the wedding ring nearly didn’t fit on Kate’s finger, when a car crashed during formula 1 or when an Olympian falls off the balancing beam. I, thankfully, am not one of those people. Whether you are watching to see what goes wrong or a genuine interest in an event there is a global curiosity which builds suspense.
This curiosity is also evident in day time television, traditionally during the morning news show. Similar to post-broadcast the setting is casual with hosts interjecting dad jokes and witty banter to start the day. Personally this type of show makes me cringe. The unpredictability in the flow of the show is a surprise I could do without in the morning. As segments of the show tend to jump between infomercials, news headlines, interviews and entertainment there is no sense of narrative that comes from a rehearsed global event. The biggest difference between day time television and international is that day time is also known as background television. Either way our cultural digitisation has brought audiences big and small together through honing in on our human curiosity. It’s a similar obsession we hold about celebrities – this idea that we can be a part of something that will be famous makes people want to join in.
A particularly good example of this is the London Olympic Opening Ceremony. Millions across the world tuned in for one of the most spectacular and well-rehearsed opening ceremonies. It touched on all great British cultural icons that have influenced the world including their history, sport, music, celebrities and even fashion. The ceremony made the ordinary, extraordinary. One particular segment called “Frankie & June say…Thanks Tim” followed two young British teenagers dancing through different era’s of music from the 60’s onwards. It was a tribute to Tim Berners Lee , the inventor of the world wide web. The segment involved interactive multimedia projected onto a large prop house with pre-recorded footage of inside. This is a great example of how such global events can affect people on such a domestic level. This global entertainment is entering the domestic space bringing the individual into the global community.
Personally, my favourite international television event was the Will & Kate’s Royal Wedding. The media hype leading up to the event gave the impression that it was an occasion not to be missed. It is typical that all television with an element of liveness has a great amount of media convergence – media advertising beforehand to engage the viewer and the use of social media interaction throughout. All this amounts to making ordinary events extraordinary – a wedding of two royals, someone winning a race and the official opening of a sporting event become must watch international news.