In The Summertime, A Surprise Hit Fits Just Fine

Yes, there are summer TV surprises. Over the weekend, Disney Channel delivered a big 8.4 million viewers for its movie “Teen Beach,” an updated takeoff on 1960s’ beach movies.

It was the network’s highest-rated original movie in six years and topped the first “High School Musical,” which had 7.7 million viewers in 2006. (“High School Musical 2” and “Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie” are the two most viewed Disney Channel movies).  “Teen Beach”s key demos included: kids 2-11 (4.6 million/11.6 rating), kids 6-11 (3.9 million/16.5 rating) and tweens 9-14 (3.4 million/14.3 rating).

Did you see all the promotion for “Teen Beach”? Unless you are in the demos just mentioned --or parents doing some co-viewing -- probably not. Disney Channel uses a lot of its own media assets for TV movie promotion.



Much of the same was true for CBS and “Under the Dome,” which became one of the rare scripted series on a broadcast network to launch in the summer with big numbers -- 13 million viewers for its premiere (and almost 20 million with the addition of time-shifted, online, and video-on-demand viewing).

The Disney Channel and CBS successes can force TV marketers to give colleagues in their companies some high fives. TV marketing can still work.

You might say these examples are “few and far between.”  TV “hits” or  “successes” can be one in nine, one in 20, or one in whatever -- depending on your definition of a “hit” or “success” these days.

For Disney Channel, a smart, musical movie with big-time dancing and an ode to older beach movies (the two leads go back in time, trapped in a ‘60s beach party) brings simple fun back to summertime viewing in much the same way as the “High School Musical” franchise.

For CBS’ “Under the Dome,” a big-idea sci-fi adventure/mystery appeals to hungry viewers who yearn for something other than reality programming, which increasingly clogs up summertime viewing.

TV marketers and programmers might say maintaining leadership in specific daypart and programming categories -- even while losing overall viewers against the continuing world of fractionalization -- is a lot of their job these days.

But then major kudos arrive when some shows way overdeliver -- starting up new franchises from out of nowhere. It's even worth a cheer or two.


Next story loading loading..