Becoming masters of the content universe

Content mediums and brands have been declared “dead” pretty frequently in the past decade or two.

  • CBS was “too old”
  • Streaming was sure to kill cable
  • Youtube and Video Games were putting movie theaters out of business

.. and those are just a few preliminary death sentences to mediums that still survive, if not thrive.

Funny enough, no one’s really dead yet. In fact, competition seems to be as healthy and interesting as ever.

Throughout all this disruption in the media and entertainment space (changing program distribution platforms, shifting viewing behaviors, new technologies and new content brands) the questions that broadcasters and publishers ask still remain the same…How do we keep existing viewers? How do we attract new ones? How do we do so with competing alternatives taking an increasing amount of our share?

From the wide array of work we’ve done here are a few thoughts:

When it comes to research, broadcasters need to think about the viewership:

As more and more viewers surf multiple viewing platforms and are driven by getting the content they want wherever they can access it – viewership behavior is beginning to look much more like shopping online, or searching for information on the internet. People are surfing through a wide range of choice, making comparisons and building a new kind of viewership routine.

Behavioral data combined with quantitative and qualitative research is a powerful trinity to decode the lives and patterns of viewers.

Maybe the hardest question to answer is “How are people really consuming content?”. There’s sizeable understanding of attitudes, preferences with an understanding of viewership behaviors and priorities.  How these translate to true occasions, routines and opportunities lies with finding better ways to merge user, passive, survey-based data and in-person observation.

The “category killers” of cable, broadcast tv and terrestrial are tomorrow’s targets for disruption or missteps.

Even with well documented failures, plodding and iterative moves to innovate, and the occasional smart acquisition, the “big media” players are poised to deliver disruptions of their own.  

And the next category killer could be right around the corner.  Media and entertainment brands should spend as much time finding weaknesses of the competition as they do defending their current programming and distribution platforms.

Intertwining programming/show development with highly targeted-retargeted broadcast promo and teaser content is key to remind people to stay engaged and drive views or tune-ins.

Younger viewers (and increasingly their older counterparts) get hooked on more than shows. They get hooked via the “new watercooler” of social sharing. Promotion to them can come in the form of memes, easter eggs, promotional games and apps, short video clips, fan reviews and predictions, online news, fan experiences and access to characters or celebrities.  For media brands this means developing targeted promotion across all platforms and devices.  It means more than messaging or snippets to introduce a show.  As viewers we’re looking for provocative, intriguing, surprising treats that incent us to view.  

Timing is everything.

As some of the biggest franchises in movies and television come to a close, viewers will be clamoring for something to watch or do next.  Timing these intercepts is important, as is recognizing that promotion also means filling the gaps between shows, seasons and movies. Targeting and re-targeting comes into play here as well, as does immersive promotion that provides continuity for those that are “in-between” new content releases.

It’s complicated, but retaining your audience universe means creating a universe of content.

Streamers have taught us that both quality and depth of selection is important. The big studios and entertainment brands have shown us that immersive franchises and ever expanding spin offs and re-boots create long term fanbases.  This isn’t easy to do, but driving and directing through complex, intertwined programming, promotion and fan-building initiatives appears to be the most successful strategy to drive success.

Wherever you sit as a media brand, these are interesting times.  And the field of players seem be in a new transition, a re-evolving space where the traditional brands and the “new” digital innovators are learning and feeding from each other competitively. Continuous learning about your audiences and the content they love might just be the difference in keeping you ahead of the competition.

Andy Hunter is a researcher, brand strategist, digital journey specialist for Tapestry Research with a love for great stories, movies, TV shows and games. He often fights for screen time with his 8 and 12 year old kids, when not fighting for them to drop their devices to watch or go to the movies.  His opinions are not necessarily those of Tapestry Research and those he works with, which not only amuses him, but also makes going to work a lot more fun.