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Why are so many young people watching Planet Earth II?

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I’m a TV fan, but I would be lying if I said the majority of TV is any good. Sure, we get some classic series now and again, but much of what you can find on the box is unadulterated garbage.

Especially bad is TV aimed young people – a casual viewer would think that young people’s televisual diet was made up solely of reality shows of varying inanity. That’s why I was very happy to hear that the first three episodes of Planet Earth II had attracted more viewers aged 16 to 34 than its rival, ITV’s The X Factor.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Planet Earth II is the sequel to Sir David Attenborough’s hit 2006 nature series. In it, the naturalist explores different biomes and habitats, and the animals that dwell there, explored in stunning high-definition. After this, we get a little featurette about the filming process, and the lengths the crew went to in order to obtain some of these captivating shots. The best ratings so far were for the second, mountain-centric episode, which drew in 13.14 million viewers. 1.8 million of these were young people, in comparison to The X Factor’s 1.4 million.

“Sure, we get some classic series now and again, but much of what you can find on the box is garbage”

Yes, on the other end of the spectrum is Simon Cowell’s miserable talent slog. Now in its 13th season (though it feels like the thousandth), the show continues to mine the bottom of the barrel in search for someone to line Simon Cowell’s pockets for a year and then vanish forever. Cowell helms the show, sitting smugly as a portrait grows older in his attic, backed up by comedy sidekicks powered by Botox. I haven’t watched the show for years, so the only contestant I’m familiar with this year is an animated sock puppet who delights in telling people she’s called Honey G.

The ever-modest Sir Attenborough suggests that the music of Hans Zimmer and the improvement in technology (it’s the first-ever BBC show to be filmed in 4K) explains the show’s success but, although they are definitely a part of it, there’s more to it than that. I’m not really a fan of nature documentaries myself, but even I can appreciate that Planet Earth II is well-made television, compered by a man with an incredible knowledge of what he is presenting and an innate capacity for fascinating his audience.

“I’m not really a fan of nature documentaries myself, but even I can appreciate that Planet Earth II is well-made television”

There is a market for intelligent shows that offer different views (in a literal sense – the footage of eagles filmed by a golden eagle is a highlight of the year), and Planet Earth II is proof of that. In many ways, it’s quite saddening that there is so much shock over a show like this finding an audience amongst young people – it shouldn’t be in any doubt that they are interested in quality programming, and it could perhaps be the kick up the backside the industry needs to make some quality shows.

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