At the end of the year, I like to reflect on the months gone by, trying to get a handle on why some strategies succeed while others fall short. Of course, it’s a little more fun when successes outnumber failures. Here five tent-pole strategies that I think any network should consider as they seek to build audiences, ratings, revenues and subscriptions in 2017.
1) Strong brands win. Content is critical. The key to growing networks amid the shifting macro environment is to let audiences know that regardless of the time of day or day of week they can find high quality content on your network(s).
2) Do what you’re good at, but don’t stay safe. In a year when most leading networks experienced bumps and bruises from the Olympics, election, cord-cutting, OTT and shifting demos, overall ratings for Scripps Networks are up. Why? It’s simple -- we stay on brand (see No. 1 above) and we take calculated risks. We were the only network group whose impression gains were not driven by news during the latest television season. We stayed loyal to our viewers despite event program options elsewhere.
3) Niche is nice. Develop remarkable brands with unique positioning. When you’re not just dabbling in a genre, but maintaining focus on dominating entire categories, you can really own the space. (Caveat: the storytelling must be great and the storytellers authentic!)
4) Give audiences and advertisers what they want, when they want it, on any device. Consumers are multi-platform and it is incumbent on networks to be multi-platform, too. Viewers “do what they view and buy what they see” which clearly resonates with clients. We work collaboratively with partners to solve challenges, utilizing our brands, first-party data and multi-platform assets to deliver scale and reach with their best customers. Whether it be long-form content on a bundle, or short-form content on social media networks, we make sure that we’re where consumers are going and where advertisers want to be.
5) Never stop experimenting or learning. Like most media groups, we have invested heavily in a content studio. Scripps Lifestyle Studios is a one-stop shop for all our digital content: written articles, photography, how-to videos and more. Whether it’s content for a mobile app or a recipe for a website, our studios help maximize digital audiences and keep them engaged through daily publishing.
In 2016, I watched my colleagues try some neat experiments. Our content team imagined shoppable apps for Amazon Fire TV; our product team developed a chatbot for Facebook Messenger and a skill for Amazon Echo; our digital team created user challenges for a gaming app; and our brands have been launch partners with Google Assistant, Pinterest Explore and Apple TV’s TV app, among others. Will these things be around forever? Maybe, maybe not. But the learnings gained from stepping outside the core business to extend reach can fuel the future.
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