Americans’ loyalty to TV has never been stronger. More movies and shows are viewed on more devices by more people for more time than ever before. But the way Americans view their TV -- through what platforms, providers and devices -- is changing rapidly.
In the old days, if you wanted to drive viewership to your show, one of the keys was program promotion, running clips and teasers of the show or movie to inform viewers that it was coming, and where and when to watch it.
For decades, TV companies typically committed more than 20% of their on-air ad inventory to “tune-in” promotion, and collectively spent more than a $1 billion dollars per year promoting their shows with tune-in ads on competitive channels and platforms.
Since nothing sells TV like TV ads, tune-in promotion has always been one of the most predictable and successful forms of advertising, helping launch shows and build viewership episode-over-episode and season-over-season.
Much of that world has come tumbling down as TV networks began shifting their original content efforts into streaming platforms and focused first on building subscribers to their new services, prioritizing service sign-ups over program viewership.
But now that the world of streaming is quickly shifting from subscription-based and ad-free to ad-supported, the world of TV tune-in promotion is in for another big change. Below are the key drivers of this change:
Competing with everything ever made. As NBCU marketing legend John Miller used to say, TV shows are no longer competing with the few other shows in their same time slot, but now competing with every show and movie ever made. Winning attention means finding the right viewers for every show and reaching them with compelling promotions to drive viewership and build loyalty.
Solving the discovery problem. It’s impossible for viewers today to know everything available to watch that they might like. They want to be informed about what’s out there. So great tune-in promotions aren’t annoying ads to them. Promo spots are much-needed recommendations, many times entertaining and fun to watch in their own right.
Building new habits. Watching TV today is hard. Not only do we have a bunch of different remotes for our TVs and peripheral devices, but the apps for the services we watch may be on different devices -- and all of them have different programming guides and navigation interfaces. There's no easy button yet, but a great tune-in promotion in content viewers already watch can help them find shows they enjoy and make the TV navigation world easier by saving them from endless channel-changing across apps, devices and shows.
It’s a brave new era for TV program promotion. Are you ready for it?