US TV seasons a thing of the past

8 July 2014

NEW YORK: The idea of a TV season is fast disappearing as broadcast networks, cable channels and streaming sites are introducing more new programming during the summer period than ever before.

Television is "definitely a 365-day-a-year business now," according to Stephanie Gibbons, president for marketing and on-air promotion at FX Networks, part of 21st Century Fox. "There's no break, no cycle; it's a wheel of continuous content."

Some 88 new shows are launching in the traditionally quiet period between June and September, the New York Times reported, leading to a spate of high-profile advertising campaigns as TV companies seek to attract audiences.

"It's challenging in a culture with a lot of noise to get attention," said Don Buckley, evp/program marketing and digital services at Showtime Networks. "You have to find unique ways to reach people."

For some channels, such as USA Network, that has meant teaming up with new partners, such as Vice Media, to explore new routes to reach the potential audience.

"This is one of our first television-related projects," explained Eddy Moretti, chief creative officer of Vice Media, of a short web series created to promote USA Networks' upcoming Satisfaction series about sex and relationships.

"The TV marketing departments are saying, 'Let's do something different'," Moretti added. "I think that's really cool."

Buckley stressed the importance of having the right creative platform and admitted that, despite the wealth of data now available, targeting the right audience was still something of an art.

"We have analytic tools we didn't have even five years ago to help us find people with the propensity to watch a show," he said, but even so, "we're flying a little blind because we don't always have the metrics."

But agencies don't always get it right, as was evidenced by the complaints about billboard ads in Los Angeles for a horror series on the FX cable channel. A poster featuring a worm in an eyeball had to be replaced.

Gibbons took it in her stride. "When you're breaking rules there can be some glass on the floor," she said.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff