NEW YORK - I had the chance to attend the PromaxBDA conference on Wednesday, June 15th, and sit in on what I feel is consistently one of the show's most interesting sessions. Presented by Lee Hunt, principal of Lee Hunt LLC (http://leehunt.com), the "New Best Practices 2016" session looked at recent television trends as viewing habits evolve thanks to platforms such as SVOD, OTT, TVE, VOD, and the DVR.
Hunt offered both statistics and his own observations on the current television landscape and how networks (both traditional "linear" broadcast and online) are trying to capture viewers' attention as well as hold on to them during commercial breaks and end credits.
First up, he looked at the relevance of linear channels. As many as 65 percent of US households now have TV connected to Internet. That number, says Hunt, surpasses that of satellite, telco and cable. He also noted that 57 percent of today's content is streamed, and credits that number very much to the success of Netflix, which in part, has reduced traditional linear TV viewing by 3 percent.
Linear viewing, says Hunt, is declining, and most notably among millenniums - a demographic that many networks hope to attract. At the same time, streaming is growing, and most notably in that same demographic.
Hunt showed a number of broadcast promos that mentioned the opportunity to view content in an on-demand capacity, and added that most networks were very good at sending their audience to the platforms that they control.
He then went on to highlight nine different on-demand case studies, imparting his own observations as to the number of breaks presented, how many sponsors appeared and the collective length of those sponsored breaks.
AMC's Fear the Walking Dead, for example, had Google and Sprint ads repeating during breaks. A viewer who might be binge watching would literally be exposed to the ads dozens of time throughout a season. Showtime, says Hunt, made use of competitive cross channel pre-release promos. None of the examples he showed during his presentation used promos in the pre-rolls to the programing, while most used the post-roll block to promote the next time the show would be on.
Hunt reflected on the evolution of opening and closing credits, citing NBC as having pioneered the "squeeze credit" and Turner for introducing "woven credits," which combine end credits and opening credits for the next show.
On the promo side, Hunt asked the audience to think about how long a campaign should run? He pointed to TBS's Full Frontal and USA's Colony as examples of shows that had some of the longest campaigns, which were measured from when the first piece of creative aired to when the show actually premiered.
According to Hunt, most networks make use of three creative executions for a returning show. FX, however, he says will often use many more creative elements and longer lead times.
The campaign for FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson served as an example. The show represents the network's most successful new series and had a 16-week lead up that made use of 14 unique pieces of creative. Early promos reflected early stages of the crime - the dog finding the bodies, the lawyers learning about O.J., and the suicide note. Latter promos were used to individually introduce the characters representing Johnny Cochran, Marcia Clark and Robert Shapiro, as well as highlight the racial tension of the time. FX also used the O.J. programming to cleverly promote their new comedy series Atlanta. After the last episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson aired, FX immediately ran a promo for Atlanta that looked like part of the programming. One character had to explain to a confused younger character that the murder, trial and outcome really happened. Viewers were quickly exposed to the new series' concept.
Before wrapping up, Hunt offered a "moment of silence" to several networks that had retired popular campaigns. USA's "Characters Welcome," TBS's "Very Funny" and TNT's "We Know Drama" are all no more. That said, he encouraged viewers to observe how those brands and others evolve in the months ahead. You can be sure he'll share his findings at PromaxBDA 2017.
Download Lee Hunt's complete presentation