The science of TV marketing

The Australian Research Council is funding a research project to work out how just people hear about new TV programs.

It will be conducted by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia which specialises in market research.

“The nightmare for programmers is the show that could have been a hit, but flops, not because it isn’t a great show, but simply because people didn’t know about it,” said Senior research fellow Jenni Romaniuk.

Yeah, like Damages perhaps?

An interesting problem, but one which should be fairly well understood by our networks already, surely? And if not, one would hope they are helping to finance this, along with the advertising industry.

But I’ll give them an answer for free: word of mouth.

Despite all the money spent on marketing in newspapers, billboards, radio, bus shelters, internet and magazines nothing has the influence over word of mouth.

And while we’re at it, let’s throw messageboards and blogs in there too, something Aussie networks are slow to recognise. In America every new show that is launched has a blogging toolkit on its official website so that fans can add the latest info to their wesbites, MySpace and Facebooks with ease. Ok now I’m just being biased. Back to the story at hand.

“We all miss quality programs because we fail to hear about them and end up watching some programs we wish we hadn’t,” Professor of Marketing Science Byron Sharp. That’s pretty sharp, Professor Sharp.

And as readers of this site will tell him, if networks bothered to advertise some of their other content (Weeds), or didn’t confuse audiences with encores (Damages) or didn’t drop their shows (Smallville) or didn’t bring them back (Veronica Mars) audiences might know where to find their favourite shows in the schedule too.

Otherwise they will find them somewhere else: on downloads.

Source: Herald-Sun.


  1. I also hate how the major networks frequently advertise all their highest-rated shows. Even if TEN completely ceased to advertise House, I’m confident that it would still pull in 1.4-1.6 million viewers per week as it has an extremely loyal and established viewer base. The Simpsons is another good example of a show that pulls in over 1.1 million every week with minimal advertising.

    The networks should devote more of their ad space on lower rating shows. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to TEN HD hoping that they’ll be airing new eps of Veronica Mars and repeats of The O.C. (say what you want, but I’d love to watch this show again on TV; ads and all lol :P).

  2. well said PJC – it really helps when you know when things are on. Also the timing of things….when shows run over and the next show(s) run late, it can become a disincentive to watch/record things.
    Shows WOULD rate and get watched if the networks showed a bit of loyalty to their viewers – it’s no wonder Channel 9 has viewers leaving in droves!

  3. Two words… ‘consistent programming’.

    If viewers know that a programme is aired at the same time every week, that’s how you build word of mouth and viewer support.

    The ABC, Seven and SBS know how to do that and each have programmes that are very successful on particular nights (SBS Monday, ABC Wednesday and Saturday, Seven every night!). Why can’t Nine, and to a lesser extent TEN, understand that simple concept?

  4. The +2 programming on subscription TV is a neat little alternative if you suddenly remember something or get home late.

    But that’s different from filling up our mainstream schedules with repeats.

    I’m all for +2 channels on HD as an extra resource but not as a replacement for new HD content.

  5. Personally, I don’t think there is enough “encores” or repeats on Australian TV! When you miss a show the only other thing you can do is download it. For example, I recorded an episode of Prison Break, though despite leaving plenty of time before and after the show I still missed the last ten minutes. As a loyal follower of the show, I won’t watch any more episodes until I’ve seen the rest of that one episode.

    That’s why I think these new digital channels may acutally be a good thing!!! If they use them as a rerun channel and to put great shows like Veronica Mars, Smallville, etc… So people can still see them.

    As for general marketing in Australia, it sucks. Channel 9 makes everything look crap, while Ten always tell you nothing about the episode and focus on the smallest plotpoint to make ti seem like a huge thing. And I swear, if one more channel does the whole “you won’t believe what happens next…” or “Watch to find out the shocking secret”, I will flip!!!

  6. Damages is one of the best shows on tv.

    The first two episodes were each repeated 3 or 4 times. Channel 9 gave it plenty of opportunities, but people didn’t watch.

    Great shows often struggle to find an audience, while shows like “raymond” and “king of queens” get renewed for 7 seasons.

    Please explain?

  7. Interesting thing about Summer Heights High — ABC didn’t move it around the schedule, up and down the time slot, and didn’t cancel it without any warning.

    How’s that for a marketing ploy our commercial stations have so far failed to invent?

  8. Well said David!!
    I have not watched Damages because:
    1 I don’t like some of the cast.
    2 I have not heard much positive about it from others.

    As for Smallville and all the other “mistreated” shows on TEN and NINE … nothing more to say about that incompetence except … I’ve just started our usual Sunday night 8.30pm viewings of Season 7 from download and episode 1 “Bizarro” was a real ripper!!!

    Also, like Adam suggests, any new shows I will downlaod the first two episodes and decide from that if I like them … as I have said before, why don’t they get people like me, Adam, Sillygostly etc to preview these new shows for the network … we seem more capable of judging the shows correctly than any Network person!


  9. Abstract Adam - Adam Oriti

    My answer is ‘Torrent Sites’

    I see a new show added, I will look it up and see what it is about.

    Sometimes on a downloaded show you see a programm flas on the screen, ‘Coming Soon’

    We know about most shows before Aussie TV tells us.

  10. Damages suffered due to a poor timeslot overburdened by competition (which is the main reason why I haven’t been watching it). Plus Ted Danson gives me the creeps :|.

    Smallville suffered due to an awful timeslot (7.30pm Friday) where half the states in this country subjected Smallville to a POST-MIDNIGHT timeslot due to TEN’S sporting commitments. At least air it at 10.30pm on any day between Monday-Thursday, or they could put it back on 7.30pm Thursdays once Dance wraps up.

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