Nonsense numbers, and the funeral

Above: that 4.1bn figure. Below: not much to do with radio this time. It’s a funny time of year.

%%promo-start%%Before we start: please come to Podcast Day 24, which has events in Sydney, Australia and also in London. PODN1215 will save you around half price on tickets, for a limited time.%%promo-end%%

A “TV analyst” claimed that 4.1bn people would watch the Queen’s funeral.

The “TV analyst” was Carolina Beltramo, breathlessly quoted in places like the Daily Mail, LBC, Metro, The National in Scotland, and The Daily Telegraph (above).

So, who is Carolina Beltramo?

Well, she works, as a freelancer, for a company called WatchTVAbroad, a website run by TwistedFingers Ltd that exists simply to promote ways to bypass geographic content restrictions by promoting VPN services (and share in the affiliate revenue). The company does this without acknowledging that they share in the affiliate revenue, incidentally: not disclosing this is against rules in the UK and US.

Carolina, who lives in Argentina, has a LinkedIn page which calls her a content writer and translator. Previous jobs have included running a store in Shibyua station in Tokyo (or, perhaps, a store called Shibuya Station, it’s unclear) and making button badges.

She has no background in the media at all; but she’s certainly been in the media spotlight all week.

Could that 4.1bn figure ever have been correct?

According to whoever-Statistia-stole-the-numbers-from, possibly the ITU, there are only an estimated 1.74 billion TV households worldwide, so that would mean at least two people would need to be watching the TV in every household in the world.

The population of the world is 7.9bn; so it’s assumed that more than half of the world’s population would have watched the funeral.

And, of course, the funeral itself started very, very early in the morning in the Americas. Possibly too early for many to watch.

The TV numbers are in; and even in the UK, the average audience for the Queen’s funeral service at Westminster Abbey (11:00 – 12:06) was 26.2m across all channels (45% of the UK population). As Jim Watterson points out, that’s smaller than the Euro 2020 final. (This is an “on TV” figure; iPlayer and streams come later).

So, were 4.1bn people watching the funeral? No.

But full marks to the PR department of WatchTVAbroad for finding a gullible enough press to carry such a nonsensical number.

Chart of the week

%%inlinestart%%Content spend%%inlineend%%

From Benedict Evans

  • Here are the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 announcing the Queen’s death. You’d expect the BBC to have done it properly: in fact, they announced it twice - once in their news coverage, then once more officially as a cross-channel announcement. Channel 4, ever the “alternative” view, covered it well and professionally. Surprising that ITV made a bit of a mess of it.

  • And here are all the radio stations in the UK announcing it.

  • And here are all the BBC domestic television channels in the UK announcing it. Note that BBC Scotland switched early, and then switched back again to their sustaining video service. Note, also, some channels being in delay until the Big Switch was thrown in London.

  • And instead of the exciting drummy countdown at the top of the hour on BBC News, this was the calmed-down version, edited and re-edited during the period of mourning. Real foresight to have commissioned a mixdown version for this work. (Not to the same scale, but my own Podnews also has a special sombre mixdown of the intro, produced for us by Studio Dragonfly. I aired it twice: once on Sep 9, and once on Sep 19.)

  • The funeral being on so many channels at the same time was an interesting test of how TV is broadcast. Many channels on Sky didn’t just show the funeral, but instead carried a static screen - because digital broadcast TV uses statmuxing, a method of assigning variable amounts of bitrate depending on how complicated the video is to encode. That breaks, of course, if the video is the same on all the channels.

  • Channel 5 in the UK broadcast a family movie (Channel 4 broadcast kids programmes while Diana’s funeral was on, by the way). Meanwhile, in Australia, the funeral was carried on all main channels but alternative programming continued on others. Even the ABC was carrying comedy on one of its channels. I posted the schedules for the big channels here. Network 10, the younger network, made the choice not to carry the funeral on the main channel; Trevor Long has access to live TV figures from the Fetch TV platform, where Network 10 managed to achieve just 1.9% share.


Want to supercharge your radio show? Here’s a £1 week-long trial of Show Prep - from a world class radio consultant and the best show-prep writer in the UK. Great for UK stations, or for English-language stations everywhere, too. (ad)


Thank you to Richard Hilton, James Masterton, and Brun Audio Consulting for your ongoing support of this newsletter. I’m very grateful to you.

If you’d like to support my work in any way, you can BuyMeACoffee - become a member to give regularly or just give a one-off coffee, or five. Here’s where to do that.

My professional website has more detail about who I am, and what I do, and whether I can help you further.

My newsletter is supported by: