How to talk to network executives and advertisers when television show ratings decline
Harsh words do not always bring insights, and complaints do not always indicate problems. But when a new television show’s ratings decline, panic can set in nonetheless.
Indeed, ratings decline perhaps more frequently than we think. For example, more than 70 percent of television shows that premiered on major networks in 2014 were cancelled before their second season. Such a failure rate is a significant drain on resources with little long-term return to show for it.
Shows fail for many reasons, whether because of poor writing, flat acting or lack of viewers. And indeed, some things are simply outside the control of broadcasters or even networks. But what about the things that can be controlled? To boost your chances of success, you must take charge of such things. But how can you?
Consider the rise of social media and data analytics. A 2015 Nielsen study described tweets about television programs as an “additional signal” helping to indicate how new programs might fare on premiere night. But after a show’s launch, how can network executives and advertising agencies use real-time data to continually monitor success, becoming the first to know if ratings start to fall? Moreover, how can they use the insights they uncover to proactively address the issue?
By uncovering early insights, stakeholders can begin proactively addressing areas of concern at the first indication of a downturn—and such insights can come from much more than social media data. For example, website and other online interactions, including search engine and multichannel viewing activity, are all significant indicators of the viewing public’s sentiment. Thus when social media chatter and search volumes are surging, and when social commentary about a show and its actors is largely positive, its creators can feel the warm glow of success. However, a spike in negative sentiment or a downturn in search volume can alert them to a decline in viewership, allowing them to take corrective action to boost ratings before they fall farther.
Tune into your audience
By aggregating real-time data from online sources, you can begin to gain a clear picture of your audience, learning how viewers truly see your show. Taking such a vantage point can help you anticipate downturns in viewership, so rather than waiting for executives to approach you, you can recommend updates aimed at forestalling serious problems, bringing all stakeholders together to turn things around before they head south.
Watch this storyline video to see how a marketing manager, having been alerted to a show’s declining ratings, could approach viewer data analytically as a first step in creating a cross-sell campaign to boost viewership and discover how entertainment companies can uncover insights that help them make intelligent programming and promotional decisions.