June 26, 2012

Promo Watch NEW FALL SHOW PROMOTION — 666 Park Avenue and Nashville Jump to an Early Lead

Promo Watch begins and so far ABC’s 666 Park Avenue and Nashville stand out so far (thanks to a solid assist from the NBA).

With the arrival of summer, it is time for the broadcast networks to get busy rolling out their marketing campaigns for their new fall shows.  While each network employs a variety of marketing tactics from the highly effective (carefully targeted cable TV spots to match the genre audience for each show, radio tune-in spots at the end of the campaign, digital and social media efforts) to the utterly questionable (outdoor advertisements in LA to play to the vanity of executive producers and in New York to show media buyers how much they love a show, print ads that get lost in a dying medium), the foundation of the campaign remains the on-air promo on their own air, aimed at viewers who are still in the (albeit shrinking) broadcast tent.  Minute by minute ratings analysis consistently shows that DVR users actually watch network promos at the same rate as the programs themselves (as opposed to the commercials which get skipped at a much higher rate).  The audience is always on the lookout for new, promising shows.  

Throughout the summer, ShowbuzzDaily Promo Watch will track the on-air promotion activity for each broadcast network, measuring how often each new show is promoted and how many precious ratings points are given to each show.  Our initial sampling (June 18-25) includes almost 50 hours of prime time programming on the four broadcast networks (about an hour and a half per night for each network), with the highest-rated programming selected each night generally.   Let’s look at the early results.

ABC had the luxury of several NBA Finals games in this initial period to showcase its new series (as NBC will have the London Summer Olympics in a few weeks).  The big winner so far:  666 Park Avenue emerged as the early leader in terms of network commitment.  While averaging only 7 seconds of promo time per hour (slightly below the median of 8.8 seconds for all network shows so far), its Promo Impact of 44.3 leads all new shows.  In basic terms, Promo Impact is the promo time rate (in seconds) multiplied by the Adult 18-49 rating exposed to the promo.  In this case, ABC placed relatively few 666 spots in the high-rated NBA games exclusively.  Nashville is not far behind with a Promo Impact of almost 36.  Based on the upfront trailers, we were already pretty high on the prospects for 666 Park Avenue (and the ABC Sunday schedule generally).  See our early Sunday Ratings Forecast which shows that despite a slow start in the fall against the NFL Sunday Night Football on NBC and afternoon game over-runs on CBS and FOX, ABC Sunday could be in first place by January.  Similarly, Nashville could do well for ABC on Wednesday.  (A review of the Nashville pilot is here, and full reviews of each pilot are coming soon, and ratings forecasts will be adjusted as necessary.)

After that, The Neighbors looks very average (Promo Impact of 17), while Last Resort (11.8) barely registers.  The two shows have only been given a few seconds per hour (basically a 15 second spot every three nights or so) and mostly in modestly-rated reality programs.  Judging from the look of The Neighbors spots, it might be wise to stop the campaign entirely, sneak the aliens-in-the-suburbs comedy on after Modern Family, cancel it quickly after it inevitably fails, and move on like nothing ever happened.   

Despite an absolutely preposterous concept, Mob Doctor is loved by FOX executives, who are giving the new show plenty of attention on its promo schedule.  Averaging 17.3 seconds per hour of promo time, Mob Doctor has a solid Promo Impact score of 31.3 (with most of its promos in decently-rated FOX summer reality shows).  On the comedy side, two new series (Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project), have received average levels of commitment (Promo Impact scores of 18.6 and 16.1, respectively).  

NBC is grinding away promoting its eclectic slate of new shows, so far favoring the new drama Revolution and the comedy New Normal (both with decent Promo Impact scores of 27.0).  Three other new comedies have Promo Impact scores in single digits (a promo here and there, mostly in lower-rated shows).  Animal Practice and Guys with Kids look like shows that merit The Neighbors-like treatment (give the resources to something that has a shot), but the big surprise is the low profile so far for Matthew Perry’s Go On.  Not that we think an updated Dear John will work, but Go On does boast the star power of Perry.

With the lowest number of rating points to play with so far, CBS has been standing behind Elementary (Sherlock Holmes and Watson in modern-day New York).  A very high 22 promo seconds per hour on average (a lot of 60-second spots, by the way), yielding a 24.6 Promo Impact (a lot of sub-2 rated shows in which the spots have played).  We are very high on the potential for Elementary — see more in our Thursday Night Rating Predictions.   Vegas is next with a Promo Impact of 20.7 (slightly above average), but Made in Jersey (12.1) falls below the industry average.  Call me cynical, but Made in Jersey has the look of a rare CBS misfire.  No comedy promotion yet — CBS will really get into gear and be better judged once Big Brother premieres and it has some audience circulation again.

Look for updated Promo Watch numbers throughout the summer, with new posts roughly each week and more frequently during the Olympics in early August.


About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.