Modern-day Magellans and the quest for entertainment

CBS CMO George Schweitzer discusses how digital distribution is having a big impact on consumer viewing habits. Viewers are learning to navigate to the new offerings, and marketers like CBS are adapting marketing strategies to keep pace with their behavior and preferences.

While television screens and programming still command the vast majority of Americans' media time, digital distribution through alternate platforms is having a big impact on consumer viewing habits. According to a recent study by Deloitte, 42 percent of Americans surf the Web while watching TV, and 26 percent send texts and instant messages. This is great because it enhances use of our medium.

Given all the new ways to access and interact with premium content--be it through iTunes, on Netflix, or on video game consoles and mobile devices, what was once a simple question for viewers: "What's on TV?" has become a more complicated proposition. What programs can I watch and how, where, and when can I watch them? In essence, it's now a two-part question: "What's on TV and what's TV on?"

CBS

Finding out about shows and figuring out how to view them can be an adventure. Viewers are learning to navigate to the new offerings, and marketers like CBS are adapting our marketing strategies to keep pace with their behavior and preferences.

There are essentially three areas where we focus our attention:

1) Navigation
2) Search
3) Discovery

Navigation is the traditional world of marketing and advertising. It's going to where the viewers are and showing them the product. In all of our on-air ads (promos), we make it clear to viewers how, when, and where to find our shows.

Search is now an ingrained part of consumers' expectations. On a laptop, you can type in a few words and find just about anything in seconds. Not so with television--electronic program guides on TV sets have historically been very clunky and "user-unfriendly." But that's beginning to change. We are working with tech partners and distributors to better showcase their content offerings and enhance video search on television.

CBS

Discovery is the act of stumbling upon something new. It's what Magellan did when he discovered a passageway from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, while in search of the Spice Islands. It's those acts of serendipity that deliver us to new people, places, perspectives, and shows. Given the nature of discovery, it is hard to control. But as marketers we can seek out selected opportunities to spark "off the grid" excitement and empower brand evangelists to spread the word virally. We do this by making sure our shows have a strong presence on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, by rewarding fans of our shows, and by interacting with social influencers on a regular basis.

Regardless of what, where, or how you want to watch, our job is to make it as simple and enjoyable for viewers to learn about, find, and watch our shows. And in a few short months we will have some new ones to introduce. So get ready for a new adventure...and stay tuned!!

About the author

    George Schweitzer's position as chief marketing officer at CBS gives him a unique opportunity not only to observe but also to help shape the ways technology is altering the television industry. A communications major at Boston University who joined CBS after graduation some 30 years ago, George is also an unabashed technology geek who specializes in the latest home automation and entertainment gear.

     

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