Are Your Fall Premiere Efforts "Pixel Perfect"?
The approach of Labor Day promises more than the end of summer time activities.  It signals the beginning of the fall premieres.  The audience has many choices not just in what programs they might watch but where and when they might watch them.  For a successful fall for a TV station, the station leadership team needs to craft a three screen plan to build anticipation, help support audience conversations and generate audience participation around key prime time programs using all the screens the audience uses. 
As stations plan fall promotional efforts, we can all learn from stations that make sure they are using every one of their 16:9 pixels on their main TV signal.  While many of these promotional concepts are tried and true, being aggressive and consistent with one message across all dayparts using every pixel can help make sure audiences are aware and interested in new and returning programs.   While radio, cable and digital out of home buys can be valuable parts of a station’s fall premiere schedule, in today’s challenging economic conditions, it is best to look to the platforms they control.  These “owned” platforms include the station’s TV signal, digital platforms and social media accounts which when combined can create a strong sense that the station has something of importance on their air.

Here are some of the ways a TV station can be “pixel perfect” this fall with an emphasis on how a station can send one clear on air message around one big prime time show each day this fall. 

  • On Air Promos:  Are they fully in sync with content on other platforms (see below) and media buys to maximize message reinforcement and are they scheduled with a high enough GRP to impact awareness? 
  • Program Grids:  Is the station doing state of the art prime time line ups during newscasts and other programming and do they clearly emphasize the returning or new hit show?
  • Anchor Endorsements:  Is there a role for anchors to say how they watched or will be watching the big prime time show with their viewers?  If not in a newscast, would it be appropriate on a radio partner chat or social media?
  • Station ID’s:  Are there timely five second IDs that support the other promos on the air? Station ID’s are often left to generic and timeless slots when they can be powerful prime time message re-enforcers. 
  • Copyright close/Voice Over Credits:  Is the news production team making use of every last second of news to push to a big prime time show that night?  A station can use a separate non news voice to mention a prime time program if needed. 
  • Morning Crawl:  Is there an opportunity to remind people of a big prime time show in the am crawl?  This element can be separate from the news content and point to the new or returning program’s social media accounts.
  • Snipes/Pop Ups:  Within agreements for programs on air, where can a promotions team be allowed to do snipes that can speak to a big prime time show?
Once a station is “pixel perfect” the team can explore the social media and digital channels that can appropriately support a prime time program.  SmithGeiger research has conclusively shown that strong digital and social signals can give people a reason to reach for the remote and turn on the TV.  While a station can use these digital and social connections to draw people to breaking news and severe weather coverage, smart stations have a conversation with the community through social media that can encourage people to watch live prime time shows.
Having a plan to go from the small screen to the big screen requires a team effort that spans news, marketing and digital.   A “pixel perfect” plan can extend to the website and mobile platforms.  While many prime time shows are not worthy of a push notification or text from a station, the big show premiering tonight may be worthy of mention in a station’s e-mail newsletters, as a program reminder or an ad-unit inside the e-mail. Pre-rolls for a big prime time premiere, banner ad units around the show and appropriate editorial content (many of these new or last season shows generate coverage from the AP or other national respected news sources) can all be planned for the day of a big show starting or returning.  
The next opportunity to be “pixel perfect” can be the many different flavors of social media.  While the reach on one social channel may be significant, often it can be modest.  The power of social media is that when a team can combine a number of accounts to offer versions of compelling piece of content related to a prime time program, a team can see they can reach substantial numbers of viewers.  Caution:  Stations should be careful not to place promos in Facebook or Twitter.  The audience is not receptive to this sort of advertising appearing in their social streams, particularly TV promos that are designed for a big screen but are seen in a small mobile screen.   Facebook audiences will often not engage in such tease like content and as a result, the station’s performance on that platform can suffer significantly.  A better option is to create content that has genuine value and target it to fans of the program or related programs, offering the audience program related content that is fresh, relevant and worth sharing with friends.  For more advice, insights and examples on how to create social media that can connect people with prime time programming, talk with your SmithGeiger consultant.