According to Madati, the “Big 5” broadcast networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and the CW — collectively launched about 25-30 shows this season, but only about six will survive. Not only that, the average ratings for TV shows are lower.
“Even the shows that are considered hits…they’re seeing lower and lower ratings,” he said. “So the challenge, or the opportunity, for content producers in the [entertainment] space is: How do you get people aware of your content across multiple platforms?” Madati said that for the film business, this means pushing fans to the box office, and in the television business, getting them to actually tune in on premiere night.
But how can social help? Madati told Mashable reporter Zoe Fox that social is critical for content producers to tap into the power of friends and the influence they have on each other. Think about when you want to see a new TV show or movie — do you ask friends first if they’ve seen it and liked it? Madati said social amplifies the opportunity there for content producers and entertainment brands. Social networks like Facebook can connect people to share their thoughts on a new piece of entertainment.
In addition to word of mouth, social media is conducive to innovative, eye-catching campaigns that keep viewers interested through the show’s airing. “The audacious challenge that we put up for our television partners is: A show may be on for a half-hour once a week, or an hour once a week. What do you do about keeping that content relevant and the fans that you’re engaging around that content excited when it’s not on television?” Madati said. “That’s where the before, during and after [an episode] framework comes in.”
An example of an innovative social campaign is TNT’s recast of the 1978 hit show Dallas. The show’s content producers were faced with a challenge: How could they market a show to a generation that may not know of the original series? Facebook worked with the show around the time that Timeline launched, and the content producers cleverly used the feature to tell the story between the ’70s and present day. Not only that, they told the story in the voice of central character J.R. Ewing. According to Madati, Dallas‘ Facebook page went from 30,000 fans to one million over the course of three or four months, and eventually it became the number-one show on cable.
“Those kinds of investments in…telling a story on the platform, much longer lead times, growing the fan engagement and base [are] paying off,” Madati said. He also suggested that pages include content related to the show but not necessarily tied to it, keeping the audience connected to the story, even between seasons.
As far as film goes, the focus is on opening weekend, but social integration influences future audiences. The content producers behind Argo, which has been in the theaters for six or seven weeks, have maintained the audience base over the past few weeks. Madati said that Argo has really become a word of mouth movie, drawing people to it week over week through social media.
Facebook has also been working with Eva Longoria’s upcoming dating show, Ready for Love for the past six months. It will air in February or March on NBC. Madati said Facebook is excited for the show, since the social network will be more integrated with it than any other show before. Right now, you can go toReady for Love‘s fan page and virtually meet and follow the three bachelors who will be featured on the show.
“I guarantee that you’re going to be able to translate [social] engagement onto…opening night or premiere night,” Madati said.