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Fall Shows Need Year-Round, Creative Marketing

Fall Shows Need Year-Round, Creative Marketing

October 6th, 2016   ||    by Melanie Brown

A decade ago, marketing fall shows on television was more straightforward. Each show had its season on linear television, and marketing was focused on driving viewers towards the episodes. In the run-up to the season premieres, networks would start to market the new lineup around the same time and run promotions for their returning shows.

Even five years ago, before over the top (OTT) and video on demand (VOD) were as pervasive as they are now, marketing new and returning programming was geared towards the rollout of weekly episodes and appointment TV. Network marketers had a lot on their plates as it was, with fragmentation spreading viewership across broadcast and cable networks. Now that all that same television content is available not only through VOD, but online, mobile, and other digital streaming apps, marketing teams have had to up their strategy game even more.

All Seasons Matter

Marketing for fall shows has shifted to a year-round, full-time effort to keep programming at the forefront of viewers’ minds. With all the network content out there and increasingly more digital and streaming-only content available all the time, marketers have to get creative so as not to lose the attention of existing viewers, and they still need to focus on attracting more viewers as well.

Ratings Aren’t as Relevant

Linear Nielsen ratings are no longer the sole indicator of performance that they once were. A program can garner less than stellar ratings for its first-run airings, but gain immense popularity via other consumption channels. Networks like USA, FX, and TBS have already seen this with shows like Mr. Robot, The Americans, and Angie Tribeca. All launched their first seasons with collectively middling ratings, but saw an increase in delayed viewership via VOD and streaming services, as New York Magazine explains.

Adjusting to Change

Because of this delayed viewership phenomenon, networks are starting to promote viewership of their programming on other channels: streaming online or via apps that make it easy to catch up on returning fall shows, or watch again before the season premieres. The focus has to stay on linear, first-run episodes, but now also has to incorporate all the other ways to consume content.

Thinking Outside the Network

In addition to the traditional house ads that run on the networks themselves, many marketing teams are taking their efforts off-air, to events like South by Southwest (SXSW), Comic-Con, and other events attended by a show’s target audience. Shows are also launching spin-offs and online-only content that complements the season in its off-air period, so viewers of the show are always engaged in some aspect of the programming.

Marketing fall shows is no longer a fall-only endeavor, and the success of any given program can no longer just be measured by linear ratings. If teams are willing to think outside of the box and get creative with their year-round campaigns, they’ll likely see results not only in live viewership but in the overall viewer base of the show.

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