BBC Proms 2011: In Figures

Not official statistics for BBC related stuff. You can find that stuff on the BBC Press Office website. Instead, here’s a collection of pretty looking pie charts and bar graphs showing video, audio and text statistics relating to my activities over this year’s BBC Proms’ season.

Blogs Posts

The editorial changed for blog posts this year. This year’s posts saw a focus on reporting on announcements pre-concert, storytelling inspired by the BBC Proms and promoting the live blogs. The effort put into developing the live blog ‘style’ inevitably forced a greater emphasis on the likes of Twitter and (more effectively) AudioBoo to express personal reactions on concerts.

So, my usual slightly left-field (some have described it as occasionally ‘broadside’ would you believe) style of Proms-related blog post haven’t been as prominent this year.

What’s interesting for me (looking at the graph below) is that the blog posts covering the Proms in the Park, and this year’s John Wilson Orchestra gig have far outstripped the rest of the content. And above that, last year’s Rodger’s and Hammerstein Prom blog outstripped everything by far.

What links these posts is that they touch on Proms events of mass appeal: TV events offering popular, accessible music in short segments. It also underlines the ongoing popular appeal of the John Wilson Orchestra and specifically John Wilson himself.

I’m surprised by the performance of the Comedy Prom post, the How to Prom post and the Young Person’s Guide post (especially as this was a recent post of only last week) though wonder what this suggests is that what people want from a blog is a piece of rich content – a clip perhaps – or a handy list of things which answer an often asked question.

Personally however, I’d strive to getting a similar take up on blog posts inspired by classical music as that seen in the John Wilson blog posts.

The chart below shows all of the blog posts published about the BBC Proms 2011 on, and the performance of those posts in the 90 days to September 11 2011.


Live Blogs

The live blogs have performed well during the Proms season but the editorial proposition of these live blogs has taken time to develop.

The overriding learning point from this experiment has been the fundamental point live blogs: you need to have something to report.

By far the most interesting element to report has – over time – grown to be the rehearsals. Editorially, these provide points to be reported on (rehearsal events, for example) and inspiration for personal recollections.

For the most part, I’ve been relieved not to have used any exclamation marks in the live blogs. It’s tempting to publish quite banal lines outlining ‘how exciting’ everything is. But over time, this does become boring to write. The real challenge has undoubtedly been ensuring a narrative thread throughout a live blog covering something like a concert. It probably needs more refinement, but that aside the process is tiring.

Does it return much? It’s difficult to tell. Statistically, live blogs for the First Night and Last Night have performed the best. I’ve been surprised by the number of replays the First Night had, for example. The other live blogs of the season did reasonably well, but weren’t spectacular in terms of reader numbers.

Percentage wise however, none of the Proms live blogs performed anywhere near as well as my Eurovision live blogs as the pie chart below illustrates.

My original concern running a live blog was that it risked not having an audience because most were on Twitter.

My experience at the end of the season is that this wasn’t the case after all. Monitoring the #bbcproms hashtag saw the same contributors participating in conversation/reporting/enthusing, suggesting to me that there weren’t as many people participating in the hashtag anywya (if there aren’t many participating, are there that many following it?)

The fact that the Last Night live blog performed reasonably well compared to the First Night suggests that live blog readers weren’t discouraged after the First Night experience (although fewer readers for the Last Night blog might be down to their being considerably less Twitter love).

Undoubtedly, it was most beneficial when there was a pannellist participating in the live blog. The concert provided a great opportunity to have a blogger in the hall and one listening/watching at home. I’m genuinely disappointed by the 3% share for the BrahmsHaitink gig Ewan Spence participated in as I think editorially this was one of the most interesting and revealing events of the season for me.


I have a rather odd approach to AudioBoos. Where some journalists will use them for reporting/interviewing (and I do this sometimes), I prefer using them as conversational pieces either with me or with friends and associates. The content I produce with it largely reflects my personal reaction to the AudioBoo product, which in turn amplifies the persona I like to project via it. The resulting content is therefore a risky proposition to ‘sell’ on the internet with users. I suspect it’s a ‘Marmite thing’.

Having said that, I’m impressed with the AudioBoo results for the BBC Proms this year.

The biggest hitter was the post-BrahmsHaitink gig (live blogged with Ewan Spence – reporting on the experience of live blogging), next the Grainger clip from the Northern Sinfonia Prom (an advocacy piece) and interview with Proms Director Roger Wright’s Assistant, Yvette (‘The Person Who Runs The Proms’). Admittedly, the stats for the latter may be skewed by it being an older piece of content. However, the fact that the ‘Coda’ piece recorded at the Last Night of the Proms performed has performed half as well as the Yvette boo in only 24 hours pleases me.


YouTube Videos

There was a deliberate change in emphasis this year where video production was concerned. Rather than ‘built’ pieces, I experimented in another way recording monologues in one take with varying backgrounds. A deliberate move was made employing the services of inexperienced colleagues in order to feed into the spontaneity of the finished product (where a camera operator was required). Like AudioBoos however there was an ongoing commitment to impulsive reactions to the concert series as it went on (eg. Saucy Beethoven 9).

Statistically, Inside The Royal Albert Hall (filmed on the First Night) was the biggest hitter. This isn’t because it’s had the most time to garner hits – the video was already hitting a comparatively high number of total hits only a few weeks after ti was published. Inside the OB Truck had to be pulled soon after publishing for editorial reasons.

The only edited piece produced before the Proms season began – Classical Music isn’t Difficult – as an introductory piece performed well overall but didn’t do as well I would have hoped, suggesting perhaps that people are interested in visuals not script (Inside the Royal Albert Hall).


Personally speaking, there’s still a need to find an effective voice to talk about classical music in such a way that it’s accessible but still informative. Conversations around classical music need to develop more. There have been a number of new connections I’ve made via Twitter which will – I hope – go on to become lasting friendships based on a shared understanding and appreciation of the genre, but it’s by no mean the norm. And editorially speaking I think the fundamental weakness in the social media chain is the likes of Facebook and Twitter. These platforms are far too brief and ‘soundbitey’ to make for meaningful conversations, discussions and debate around the arts. An opportunity for the future, no doubt.

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