During the past few months there have been a host of new series debuting on cable. From the TNT remake of Dallas to the much ballyhooed return of, coincidentally, the king of Bally’s, Charlie Sheen, in Anger Management. I tally twenty new series in all.
Of course, that total does not include every new cable series. Let me apologize upfront to some niche cable networks: you debut series more often than American Idol announces judges. For the purposes of this analysis, I’ve limited my scope to the top rated new cable series.
When a series premieres on television the main promotional tool networks’ employ is promo spots on their own air, on a sister network or as part of a paid schedule. TiVo’s Stop||Watch ratings service enables us to determine the percentage of viewers that actually tuned in to a series premiere after watching its promo. We call it Promo Conversion. (I know, clever, right?)
The Promo Conversion analysis breaks out the number of promos that a viewer has been exposed to. For the purpose of this analysis, I selected three promos, based on the old tenet that it takes at least three exposures for an advertising campaign to be effective.
In evaluating the Promo Conversion, The History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoys was the clear leader with a 9.82% Promo Conversion based on three exposures. Simply defined, out of all the viewers who saw at least three promos, 9.82% viewed part one of H&M. TNT’s Dallas remake scored second place with a Promo Conversion rating of 8.03%.
I then compared the Promo Conversion to the campaign’s Live + 7 Day Reach for the six weeks prior to the series premiere. The combination of reach and Promo Conversion begins to illustrate a more complete picture of the effectiveness of the promotional campaign. The Hatfields & McCoys achieved a 49.92% reach while the Dallas campaign reached slightly more than two thirds (67.41%) of TiVo’s DVR homes over the six weeks leading up to the series premiere.
Dividing Promo Conversion by Live + 7 Day Reach yields one measure of the accuracy of a targeted promotional campaign. In other words, was the effort based on a broad reach strategy or was it a targeted effort that was designed to influence only potential viewers? The Dallas strategy achieved an 11.91% Promo Conversion/Reach figure, while Hatfields & McCoy scored a 19.67%. Interestingly, the number one new series based on Promo Conversion/Reach was the History Channel’s new reality series Mountain Men. This is clearly one network that understands its audience because the entire campaign aired only on the History Channel — focusing on American Pickers, Swamp People, Hatfields &McCoys, and Pawn Stars — and achieved a 33.72 Promo Conversion/Reach result. Achieving similar results was BBCA’s White Heat, which ranked 16th in Promo Conversion, but second overall in terms of the Promo Conversion/Reach ratio. As with History Channel’s Mountain Men, BBCA focused the entire promotional effort for White Heat on its own air, concentrating on Top Gear and Kitchen Nightmares.
TiVo data delves into promotional efficiency through the Power||Watch ratings service that includes demographic and household characteristic data from a national opt-in panel of nearly 50,000 TiVo households. Beyond overall Promo Conversion, the system includes the ability to classify the data by broad daypart, network and creative spot. We also offer a second metric, Program-Promo Conversion, which segments the viewers of the program being promoted and reports what percent of the viewers saw a given number of promos.
Determining the success or failure of a network promo has been a difficult prospect. Yet its importance is without question, and with the constant torrent of new series debuts a network needs the latest and most effective tools that will allow its series to stand out from the crowd.