When on-air promos are deemed ineffective, both the marketing and programming departments have convenient scapegoats — each other.
Marketing executive: We did all we could trying to make your boring content remotely appealing.
Programmer: If your spots had any pop whatsoever, more people would have watched and the show would clearly be soaring.
Of course, there are multiple factors that impact whether promos get the job done -- besides a show’s content and how compelling the spots are. There is the issue of when the promos air and how many times. Also, how much promotion a show receives on other platforms –- billboards, magazine covers -- can contribute to a promo's strength.
TiVo has released a “promo conversion rate” for 19 first-year series that debuted between Sept. 10 and Oct. 11. The metric reveals how many viewers catching at least three promos for a show -- in the six weeks before the broadcast season -- tuned into a premiere episode.
CBS’ new drama “Elementary” had the highest promo conversion rate (PRC) at 26.2%. NBC’s “Revolution” followed at 21.8% with the CW’s “Arrow” in third at 18.9%.
Fox’s “The Mindy Project” (18.3%) and ABC’s “666 Park Avenue” (15.7%) finished out the top five. None of the remaining 14 series had a PRC above 15%, stretching from ABC’s “The Neighbors” (14.5%) to last-place “Chicago Fire” at 7.2%.
Data was culled from TiVo's opt-in panel of 45,000 homes. TiVo tracks viewing on a second-by-second basis in a limited universe, so some might argue it doesn’t capture a representative sample. Also, no details were released on when promos ran and the demographics of the viewers.
Back to the PRC rankings: also in the top 10 were CBS’ “Vegas” at 14%; Fox’s “Ben and Kate” at 13.5%; NBC’s “Animal Practice” at 13.4%; and CBS’s “Partners” at 12.3%.
How much does frequency of promos airing contribute to a conversion rate? Perhaps not much.
CBS’ “Elementary” led in PRC, but nine shows had a higher frequency rate with the TiVo metric. Contrast that to the leader in frequency, ABC’s “Nashville,” finishing 18th in PRC.
ABC’s “The Last Resort” was second in frequency and 12th in PRC. NBC’s “Chicago Fire” was fourth in frequency and last in PRC.
Bucking the trend was NBC’s “Revolution,” which finished third in frequency and second in PRC.
Three shows ranked in the top 10 for conversion rate have been canceled: ABC’s “666 Park Avenue”; NBC’s “Animal Practice”; and CBS’ “Partners.”
For that trio, can it be said the marketing departments set the table nicely and the programmers weren’t able to cook a good meal?
At least, there will be peace at NBC when it comes to "Revolution." Both groups might have a claim to its huge success.