If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? The jury's still out on that one. But in the world of television, there's no debating that if viewers can't find the shows they are interested in, the audience loses out, and so does the media ecosystem it feeds.
This is a timely issue as we look at the initial results of the most recent fall television season, in which a handful of new series across network television have already been canceled. Is it that people didn't know about the shows, couldn't find them, or just didn't care about them enough to keep watching given all the other fantastic viewing options out there? It's tough to say.
But it's easy to see that the viewing public is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of video choice. Live TV, the Internet, video on demand, DVDs, and the contents of our DVRs--keeping track of one's shows is beginning to feel like a full-time job! As New York Times columnist David Carr recently pointed out, "The media world today is less the paradox of choice than the inundation by options."
Our goal as television marketers at CBS is to remove the work required for people to discover and navigate to our shows. Research has shown that the vast majority of people find out what's on in three simple ways:
- seeing promos or previews while watching TV,
- reading the electronic program guides on their TV screens,
- or listening to the recommendations of trusted friends, commonly referred to as "word of mouth."
On-air promos are the main tool in our kit. Each day and each night of the week, promos help us use our already powerful platforms and franchises to introduce and nourish tomorrow's big hits. People love previews and want to see samples of what the latest shows are about. We test them out to see what gets audiences interested and excited, and use that intelligence to shape our marketing strategy. Promo spots did an exceptional job of getting the word out for us this year, as we introduced several key scheduling changes across the network.
Guide optimization and word-of-mouth are increasingly important as well. New services and devices like Google TV and Apple TV are coming to market promising easier search and integrated navigation capabilities. While they're still in their infancy, these innovations cater to a growing consumer need: the need for better content management tools.
We have our eye on the space and are doing our part to cater to that need through constant collaboration with partners across the technology landscape. With more user-friendly discovery tools, interfaces and guides, enhanced electronic program guides and interactive TV widgets, we at CBS are doing everything we can to make it easier for consumers to find and enjoy our shows. Because at the end of the day, people don't watch technology, they watch programs!