The new TV season has started on network TV. CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, the CW and others are rolling out their fan favorites and newcomers. Sports is back, too. And yes, ratings are down -- and prices in the upfronts were up.
Meanwhile, the shows people are talking about are not on mainline TV. You know this, because you have a Baby Yoda sitting on your desk, and can’t stop talking about who murdered Tim Kono. None of these shows (Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” and Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” respectively) were aired as part of a start of any particular season. They just air. And none of them were sold or premiered at an upfront event.
We have officially entered the next stage of screen entertainment. Traditional TV is challenged and is morphing into something new and different. Traditional players are reinventing themselves faster than they can come up with acronyms for their viewing platforms. TV, movies and video content are all merging -- indeed, blurring into new distribution and monetization models.
I believe that we are now at the other end of the development. We are no longer seeing the slow evolution of video content; we are living in the first phase of the post-evolution. This first phase is characterized by consumers watching lots (and I mean LOTS) of video content across a wide array of platforms and technologies. Most of that content is watched on-demand, not on linear channels. It's hard to predict when something will be watched: Will it be binged in one or two sittings, or consumed in dribs at a convenient moment, whenever that is?
Most of it is accessed not through antennas or cable, but modems and WiFi. Nielsen has learned the hard way that this is damaging the way it measures viewership. You are better off adding up actual viewers across the various platforms of distribution -- but sadly, many of these are walled gardens where it is hard to track who is watching what and when, if that data is released by the proprietors at all.
All this means you obviously will have to rethink your video planning strategy.
Budgets should not be allocated by media type or sub-type, like budget for TV, cable and online video. Instead, allocate media impressions by audience. Whom do you need to reach -- and by how much -- to create impact?
Gross rating points and target rating points are a thing of the past. If your media mix includes a traditional and/or cable buy, use these metrics to optimize that part of your buy. But don’t attempt to take these metrics across all the various platforms of video you are advertising on.
If your video production budget splits between 30 seconds and 15 seconds, start over. Get the message right, get the content right and produce for each platform. Your mix will cover anywhere from five seconds to long-form. There are no rules, other than creating what the audience expects on the platform they are on.
And finally, don’t just create advertising. Create content, collaborate with other content creators, and be prepared to get it wrong. Not all Netflix or Disney+ content is a winner. But at the same time, sometimes a piece of content just hits the right spot at the right time and becomes an unexpected big hit that you did not see coming. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to find out if Ted Lasso and Rebecca are or are not going to be an item….