Developing a strong primetime TV schedule is an important part of your local media campaign to enhance your brand’s image and reach your target audience.
Every summer the networks release their primetime schedule for the upcoming season including new programs, which is called the “upfront.” While the upfront is an opportunity for national advertisers to purchase inventory for the next year, local media advertisers use the new program information to finalize their 4th quarter schedules.
It may seem like a daunting task to select prime programs for your local media buy, especially when there are a number of new programs available. Don’t worry, there is a method to the madness.
Before placing your next television schedule, consider the following 6 tips:
1. Brand Image
If you have a family-friendly image then it would benefit your company to choose shows that are family-friendly. Having your message in the middle of a controversial show can throw up “red flags” to those customers that support family-friendly companies.
Look at the content of the program and ask if this provides the right environment for your advertising message. For example, if you are in the food industry you want to make sure that your message is in a program that is free of unappetizing images. There is nothing worse than going from blood and guts on a murder mystery show to an image of a juicy hamburger.
3. Target Audience
Don’t assume your key customers like the shows that you like. Use Nielsen or Rentrak ratings to find programs preferred by your target demographic. Most stations subscribe to the data and can lead you in the right direction. Program rankers can be helpful tools to confirm or deny your suspicions that your target audience is tuning into a particular program.
4. Time Slot
The time when the program airs can affect how well it does. As a general rule Friday and Saturday have lower viewership across the board. The more family-friendly shows are early in the night, usually the 8:00 time slot rather than 9:00/10:00 slot.
The programs airing at the same time on the other networks will affect how a show does for a particular demographic. If you have two shows that appeal to women that air at the same time then your audience has the potential to be divided in half. Usually networks carefully plot their shows to capture the most viewers but on occasion they will try to divide the audience. In that case, you need to look at the most cost effective way to purchase a prime schedule.
If the show is a returning show from a previous season, it is beneficial to look at what kind of ratings the show produced over the past year. If the show looks like it is on the decline but still holds a sizable audience it may still be a viable option for your local media schedule. If the show is brand new, then evaluate programs that have aired over the past couple of years with similar themes, characters or story lines.
Local media buyers and advertisers struggle with the dilemma of jumping on the bandwagon of the new shows or being really conservative and sticking with the tried and true shows. It is a lot like buying stocks. There are some that are big risk takers that roll the dice and hope to cash in big and some that will play it safe in bonds and the small but consistent payout. Just like most financial advisors say, a diverse portfolio with some level of risk gives you the best pay out.
If your ROI is short term, then sticking with the tried and true might be the best for your prime schedule. But, if you are investing in a long-term goal of an image campaign and continuously capturing your audience, then adding new shows could be a good calculated risk for your schedule.
Although there has been evidence that TV viewership in general is declining with so many ways to watch your favorite shows, traditional TV still remains the most widely used method. Thoughtfully consider each spot you place in your local media campaign. The goal of your schedule should be to enhance your company’s image and reach your core customers.