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Reflections on Big Jet TV’s moment in the sun/wind
Amid yesterday’s deluge of videos showing the havoc wreaked by Storm Eunice, the dark clouds briefly parted and a ray of sunshine crept into people’s timelines, chats and newsfeeds in the form of Big Jet TV - a hitherto niche YouTube aviation channel, that was live streaming pilots attempting to land planes in the high winds at Heathrow.
Whilst the specific set of circumstances that led to Big Jet TV reaching over 200,000 simultaneous streams are fairly unique, there are some wider lessons to take from its success.
Passion & authenticity
If you’d watched Big Jet TV with the sound off yesterday, you would have been forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about, as the special sauce ingredient was not in fact the video but the joyful commentary of Jerry Dyer.
Like many of the most memorable moments of sports commentary, Jerry’s voiceover isn’t measured or polished - it’s excited and unfiltered and that’s a huge part of its appeal (“go on son!”).
Viewers also revelled in learning some industry-specific lingo (“crabbing”, “yoke”) and that sense that they were getting a peak into a different world (a foundation of so much reality TV).
The power of live
If you weren’t online yesterday or somehow missed the moment, I wouldn’t suggest you watch all 8 hours back (this 5 min package should suffice).
In this era of disconnection and asynchronous media consumption, there’s a special appeal to the shared real-time media moments we used to take for granted; whether that’s everyone watching the same Strictly dance, grappling with the same Wordle or watching a man shouting excitedly as planes are buffeted by strong winds.
Which is one of the reasons I picked growth in live streaming as one of my 10 Media Trends for 2022.
The power of social
Very few of the people who watched Big Jet TV yesterday had planned to do so. None of them found it in their TV Guide or read about it in a newspaper. Some latecomers will have read about it on a mainstream news site. But the vast majority will have discovered it via social media.
High-reach Twitter accounts played a key role, with the likes of Caitlin Moran (865k followers), Richard Osman (1.1m followers) and Dan Walker (750k followers) all tweeting enthusiastically.
I experienced the amplifying effect of a high-reach Twitter account yesterday, after tweeting a cartoon I’d drawn, first to my account (which has 1.6k followers), where it was seen 322 times and received just 3 retweets and 4 likes, and then in reply to a tweet from Richard Herring (273k followers), where it was seen over 19,000 times and received 378 likes and 24 retweets.
The power of the underdog
Finally, is there anything Brits love more than a underdog? Ok, maybe queuing, but underdogs come a close second.
Whilst there’s a fair bit of apples and pears in comparing global simultaneous YouTube streams with BARB audiences, there was definitely a sense of the little guy socking it to established media players, many of whom struggled to get Jerry to give them the time of day yesterday.
Whilst Big Jet TV is unlikely to retain much of yesterday’s audience in fairer weather, I suspect a decent proportion will head back the next time there’s a red weather warning covering Heathrow.
If nothing else, yesterday’s live stream reminded us of the frivolous joy the internet is capable of bringing (“Ok folks, every time the rain comes I'm going to have to put the phone in me pocket…”)