August 26th, 2010
We all know that it is increasingly difficult to reach local TV news viewers during daytime because there are so many two-income families these days. Now, the DVR has become your enemy as you attempt to drive viewers from network primetime programming to your late newscasts.
A Comcast survey shows that – for the first time – a majority of primetime television viewers – 61% in fact – say they use their DVR to record and time-shift their favorite programs. 40% of them say they now regularly record their favorite programs and watch them later – at their convenience. In effect, your viewers are now programming their own “network” of their favorite shows. That means your primetime topicals are no longer reaching these viewers the same day – or same time – within an hour or two of your late newscast.
For instance, about a third of the people who watch NBC’s “Parenthood” time-shift the program. That program leads into affiliate’s late newscasts this fall. Fox’s hit program – “Fringe” – gains 39% more viewers through time-shifting. ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” is time-shifted buy a third of its audience. Those are big chunks of potential late news viewers who are not getting your late news topicals in a timely manner.
So – what to do? I believe the first step is to make better use of the one constant platform you can rely on – your early evening and afternoon local newscasts. Typically – these are the higher rated programs during the broadcast day. Many stations try to sell ahead to the late news in these newscasts – but it is a haphazard effort with no special showcasing that makes it pop. It is time to take these “sells” out of the hands of your newscast producers – and have the marketing department create a special promo that will grab the viewer’s attention.
Don’t forget the Internet too. Many people are online in the evening – and it is a great opportunity to use your website to drive them to the late newscast. Social media is also another strong marketing avenue for you. One of my clients produces a 7:30 p.m. local entertainment program – and the host is texting and tweeting and online an hour or so before the program – letting people know what’s coming up.
The bottom line: It is time to be creative in new ways with your late news topicals – using better marketing tools and multiple platforms to battle the newest enemy – DVR time-shifting.
August 10th, 2010
Now that I have your attention. It struck me today that I have pretty much lost interest in following – not only the local news in Dallas, where I live, but also the national news too. The reason is simple – and it is something I’ve been hearing from viewers for a decade or more – Television news is just not relevant to my life. I am not getting enough of a return on the investment of my precious time to fit it into my busy days.
Here’s my situation regarding television news. The local newscasts continue to focus on crime – I, fortunately, live in a quiet neighborhood where the terrible things I see on the local TV news pretty much never happen. Then they give me the usual allotment of politics, and other – to me – lesser interest items that once again have little relevance to my life and family – but fill the space between the commercial breaks. As a very insightful friend of mine noted – first they scare the hell out of you -and then they give you puppies. Think about it! That describes local television news.
And then there’s the national half-hour dinosaurs offered by NBC, ABC and CBS. If I hear another story about the fishermen in the Gulf it would be too soon. I get it. I feel sorry for them. But -give me some fresh news. So the guy who got bounced out of BP received a multimillion dollar pay off. Well, duh! Happens all the time. The stock market went way up or way down too – yeah, already knew that I get a text to my cellphone when the market closes and breaking news alerts on my mobile from CNN.
Wow – as I write this I am surprised at the venom coming out. I guess that I have finally become the perfect consultant – I TOTALLY understand where television news customers stand – and apparently I’ve become one of them! I am plugged in all day on my mobile, my iPad, my laptop and my national cable channels. I know what the news IS – now would someone please tell me what it all MEANS TO ME! If you don’t, I’ll just have to dig into the stories that interest me by plugging into the Internet. And, I can get the info on my time – don’t have to wait for a scheduled newscast time.
So, from this day forward, I vow to push my client television stations even harder to become more relevant in their markets. To be fair – and I am most likely more than a little biased here – many of my clients are striving – and most days – delivering newscasts that are meaningful and relevant to their customers. Many of them understand what their customers are saying in the research we conduct in their markets – and are crafting their newscasts to meet those needs.
They have become advocates on behalf of their customers – holding the unreachable (for the average person) politician or official accountable; asking demanding questions to get answers that their customers seek – but again have no access to get them; and explaining the news and how it affects people in their market. Do they do it in every newscast, every day? Of course not. But they are reaching for that goal – and it is setting them apart from the competition. As I reflect, I am proud of my beloved clients efforts to become viewer advocates.
Maybe that’s why I enjoy watching their newscasts on the Slingbox more than the local channels where I live? But beware beloved clients – after today’s epiphany I will be pushing you harder than ever to become totally relevant in every story in every newscast! That’s a promise from your most critical viewer!