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The success of The Traitors shows that mainstream TV can be a triumph, writes Johnny Jenkins
22 January 2024, 09:56 | Updated: 22 January 2024, 10:17
Everyone I know is watching The Traitors. This reality show demonstrates that traditional television isn’t dying among young people.
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I spent most of my weekend drinking wine with friends in London pubs. This is how almost every conversation went:
“Hi, how are you? Fine thanks - are you watching The Traitors?”
Everyone I’ve asked has told me they’re watching and enjoying the BBC hit. The style of the show lends itself perfectly to debate at the pub.
The cliffhangers every episode are generating modern day water cooler moments. We all want to discuss the latest roundtable and late-night murder.
Not everyone is watching the episodes as they’re released on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. There’s a lot of binge watching taking place.
In fact, instead of going out with a mate recently, we decided to stay in and watch three episodes in a row. It was the best night I’ve had in a long time.
While some of us need to use catch-up platforms for convenience, most of my peers are watching the show when it airs.
Social media has become a hotbed for plot theories and I’ve had to mute mentions of ‘Traitors’ on Twitter, as you almost always see a spoiler before you get round to watching on demand.
We’re told that traditional television is dying and that young people especially spend their lives scrolling on TikTok and watching Netflix. That’s just not true.
The most recent Ofcom poll, conducted in August 2022, concluded that 79 per cent of young people watch traditional television, falling from 83 per cent the year before.
But as we’re seeing now, all it takes is a successful show to capture the attention of young people.
Every channel is trying to strike gold and some are succeeding. The BBC return of the Gladiators pulled in six million viewers and the nation became transfixed by ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office.
Most reality television hasn’t been doing quite as well. ITV recently rebooted Big Brother but struggled to register a million viewers. Channel 4 tried a new format in Rise and Fall last year, but only attracted half a million.
In contrast, The Traitors is getting nearly four million viewers per episode. It’s fun, interesting and you never see the plot twists coming. It’s just perfect reality television.
The BBC has a hit on its hands in The Traitors and now it needs to ensure it keeps the attention of young viewers.
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