When I recently attended the Real Screen summit in Washington DC , what truly impressed me and stuck in my mind (and makes my point) was hearing Howard Lee of TLC explain the reason for the skyrocketing performance of the network. TLC took a new and really good look at their audience. By reassessing and taking a fresh look at their audience, they discovered a huge portion of female viewers living in the middle of the country. The programming was shaped accordingly. We are all very aware of their success and continue to be impressed and amazed at their ratings. http://adsales.discovery.com/networks/tlc/research/
The benefits of reevaluating your audience can’t be stressed enough. As the old timers like to say – “Times, they are a changing’ ‘” and because of that, the needs and values of our audiences are changing. Having that awareness helps us to see that there is a change in a certain direction and we can adjust accordingly. A great example is shown by the effect of current situations in western countries (North America and Europe) due to inflation and reduced public spending. These citizens face a rise in unemployment which in turn affects consumer behavior. There are many unemployed academics in their mid twenties wandering the streets or spending lots of time in front of their computer.
How will this influence the audience’s needs? Will they seek more programming portraying the perfect lives and look for an escape from their own reality? Will a real life series addressing the issues bring and show empathy to your viewers and result in ratings for your network? These are the sorts of questions you must ask and answer in order to bring the high ratings.
Reassess your audience and its “Wants” is a given – there is a huge benefit in shifting and exploring new perspective as seen through the eyes of the viewer. When your programming reaches them on that certain magical level, you have them right there on your hand. Join and participate in discussion forums, observe and read print media, visit “their” gyms, hair dressers and stores. When you assess and get to know your viewers and what’s going on in their lives, you have the great advantage of calling them “your” audience.