The Economics Of Trickle-Down TV Entertainment

What better way to address the good, the bad and the ugly of this politically heavy TV season than with trickle-down entertainment?

That means full support via social media for shows you love. Talk up your mediocre 1.5-rated drama show among 18-49 viewers; or the lackluster reality program you can't do without that scores a ho-hum 1.2 rating.

Media executives tell you that social media supports only those who already watch shows preaching to the choir”– and that it won't deliver any additional viewers. Looking at the first couple of weeks of the new season, I'd dare say that is true.

Still we hear how active social media types -- those frequent short-blurb writers -- are "ambassadors" and "influencers" of marketing. Is that also the case for the marketing of TV?



We know traditional TV advertisers wholeheartedly endorse the finding of extra opportunities in social media to extend their traditional TV show buys.

So it's not about more viewers. Its about networks charging those advertisers more to reach those more engaged viewers.

Simulmedia's Dave Morgan says networks are doing a better job in getting more ROI from their promotional campaigns. It isn't just guesswork anymore, because there is a slew of set-top-box data to crunch and use, making these promo efforts work more effectively.

TV consumers are TV voters, voting with their remotes, willing to "invest" (time spent watching) in TV "candidates" (shows). But if the shows don't deliver on promises, they will be quickly voted "out of office." Accept trickle-down TV economics. TV producer-millionaires will do their best to deliver the goods -- and hopefully provide a bit more than entertainment crumbs for consumers to tweet about.

4 comments about "The Economics Of Trickle-Down TV Entertainment".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, October 12, 2012 at 3:38 p.m.

    The upside of social TV is that programs attracting "connected viewers" are more likely to be viewed live, which means the commercials not be skipped as readily. This is a better scenario than the one I've been preaching for years, that shows will be fast-forwarded on a DVR. Viewers cannot share the social viewing experience unless they view simultaneously. Even if second-screen apps are distracting during spot breaks, sponsors of programs should see benefits of engaged viewers. Maybe.

  2. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, October 12, 2012 at 4:54 p.m.

    TV networks have always used their own inventory to promote themselves. In fact, the total inventory consigned to this practice dwarfs by comparison any network's biggest cash advertiser. But it's really a carry-over from a less fragmented time, when primetime audience reach and appointment viewing really meant something.

    In today's hyper-fragmented, on-demand world, two flawed premises combine to recommend a re-thinking of this outdated practice. The first is the foolish futility in preaching to a shrinking choir and in throwing more promo pasta against your own wall(s) - on-air, social, whatever - in hopes more of it will stick. The second is the message it sends to the advertising community at large when your investment in yourself delivers such a poor return.

    I remember several years ago having a conversation with a mid-market TV-station GM whose early news was mired in fourth place in a four-station race with a 3 HH rating.

    He told me he was planning to run 400 HH GRPs a week in news promotion during sweeps. His goal was to increase his rating by 33% to a 4. I told him he was making a big mistake, because even if he could move the needle from a 3 to a 4, his ultimate yield would not justify the sacrifice of 1600 ratings points (over just four weeks) worth of sellable commercial inventory. I also told him that the public had already votedn on his news product as expressed by the 97% of HH that had chosen not to watch, and that a blitzkrieg of news promos would only disenfranchise them even more. I summarized my POV by stating that even if he succeeded in jumping his news number to a 4, there would then still be 96% of the audience that wasn't interested.

    Surprise, surprise: His news needle didn't budge. He blew his wad at the promotional track and came up a loser in more ways than one because any advertiser watching this fiasco unfold would be within its rights to question the value of its faith and investment in a station that can't even help itself.

    As for social media's role in program promotion, aren't we talking about the same people who are busy working a second screen during the commercial breaks? Time to head back to the drawing board.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 12, 2012 at 7:15 p.m.

    Rattlings based on HUTZ or PUTZ ? (yes I know, HUTS/PUTS)

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, October 12, 2012 at 10:45 p.m.

    Or is it HUFF and PUFF Paula?

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