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CONTENT MATTERS

IDEAS THAT IMPACT THE CONTENT BUSINESS 

 

Culled from the headlines of the media and technology trade press by Katz’s Strategy, Analytics, and Research Team, Content Matters provides a periodic snapshot of news and issues that affect the business of creating, producing, and distributing content across TV, radio, and digital media. Here are this issue's 5 THINGS TO KNOW.

2019 Q2 Issue #2

 1   Fifty and Forgotten? That's A Trillion Dollar Mistake

In many ways, post-50 listeners are spending on the down side of their personal financial hardship mountaintop – they’ve paid their mortgage, are done with putting their kids through college, and have made most of their financial mistakes. And because retirement at 55 looks more like an oft-ignored speed limit sign than the law, these are not fixed-income hardships anymore. And they’re living longer than ever.

So why do advertisers tend to ignore them?

One possible answer is that they believe that this is not a target to build lifelong brand equity around. Indeed – creating a consumer from a 51-year-old will likely only give you a 25 or 30 year brand relationship. Hardly worth your time as a marketer. That is, assuming the brand lasts that long.

Millennials are spending against their economic futures: paying off crushing student loan debt, mortgages, raising a family, maybe even overspending on millennial Teflon toys. High-end cars, overpriced beauty and health bio-fads, bleeding-edge tech and life enhancers (do their driveways need to be online?), movie and pop culture memorabilia, overindulgent vacations, and other perks of under-appreciated success with no fear of a bubble. Yet.

This is the demo that most brands key on to fortify their foundations. Millennials are dancing on shifting sand financially, while post-millennials have worked their way to solid ground. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, A55+ spend over three trillion dollars – 41% of total consumer spending.

And an analysis of the Bureau of Statistics data by the VAB revealed that 77% of consumers age 50+ feel ignored by brands and that 49% of the demo will choose to avoid brands that treat them this way.

These 50+ consumers aren’t Baby Boomers. This is the disenfranchised generation. This is Gen X. It’s a demographic that’s often left out of sociological discourse, as it’s generally a hidden bridge that goes straight from Boomers to Millennials. It’s the John Hughes audience; society’s misfits come of age. Ferris’ son is borrowing Cameron’s car now.  

And they’re bringing 3 trillion dollars of validation to market.

That’s a lot of brand equity that’s being left on the table. Note to marketers: don’t be so quick to dismiss the one who’s ultimately picking up the check. 

For a few more thoughts about this, see Inside Radio’s Despite Vast Buying Power, 50+ Consumers Feel Shunned By Advertisers

  2   Avengers: Endgame Premieres and It Leaves Quite an Impression

Chances are, even if you had been living in a cave for the past month you knew that the long-awaited release of “Avengers: Endgame” finally bowed this weekend. Ticket sales were, in a word, brisk. Or more accurately, blistering. $356 million in domestic ticket sales for opening weekend, $1.2 billion globally.

Using $9.11 as the average movie ticket price (2018 average from the National Association of Theater Owners), that works out to over 39 million impressions.

The 2019 Oscars delivered 30.5 million impressions. “Game of Thrones” season average is 13.9. “This is Us”, 13.8. And those are Live+7 Day numbers. The “Endgame” number is, in effect, a Live+3 result.

And for those captive audiences filling the seats, there may not have been a better way to sell a message. Other than the line for popcorn and the one-last-time restroom run before the 3+ hour movie, this is an audience eager to watch the screen in front of them. And for a change, it’s an audience that’s actually likely to be actively disengaged from their smartphone, making sure to avoid some cruel spoiler.

This was an engaged, captive audience that was 30% larger than the Oscars audience. This event absolutely delivered broadcast-level scale.

We all know that fragmentation is wholesale turning mass audiences into dust and scale is being decimated before our eyes.

Granted, this is a unique event that will be hard to duplicate. However, it should serve as a wake-up call to those promoters of all things "personalized" and "on-demand."  People still want to experience cultural moments in real-time and at the same time as the rest of the world.  Movies, like broadcast TV, are still superpowers of the media world -- and they provide the important cultural currency that fuels interaction on digital, social and persoalized media. 

For more, see Matt Matt Zoller-Seitz’ excellent treatise on the convergence of TV and cinema content from rogerebert.com, Avengers, MCU, Game of Thrones, and the Content Endgame”.

  3   Why "The Office" is The Most Impactful Show on TV Right Now 

That’s right. “The Office.” The American sitcom that went off the air in 2013.

In the words of Obi-Wan, “if you strike me down, I’ll become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Who knew that Obi-Wan was such a good paper salesman?

Teens and pre-teens are obsessed with this show. One of their senior members, 17-year-old pop star Billie Eilish, sampled the show to use in her recordings. But why?

First, in full disclosure, this is more of a first-person discussion than usual here. I have a 13-year-old daughter who is in full-blown Officemania. It’s on every time she has the TV on. She goes to sleep with it on her laptop, despite our best efforts. Her viral videos are callbacks to something that Jim or Pam said. It’s how she knows “Everybody Hurts” by REM – because it was playing while Dwight was in his car. The show occupies her every non-school thought (and I’m not even sure that’s completely accurate).

And they all watch it, simultaneously as they’re on their online video chats late into the night. And they quote it, reference it, find touchpoints about it in their own lives.

But “The Office?” Really? They’ve never even seen the inside of a real office before, other than maybe Take Your Child to Work Day.

“It’s just so cringy!” she says, clearly making up words.

But that’s probably the crux of it. It’s a show that revels in awkwardness. These are ordinary adults who are bastions of awkwardness. When you’re a teenager, it’s heartening to see that you’re not the only awkward person on the planet. And it’s even more comforting to know that it happens to normal adults, too. The documentary style is very Youtube.

Even though it’s a show that began before many of them were born, it’s highly relatable.

Oh, by the way, if you haven’t heard – it’s the most watched show on Netflix. Followed by Friends. NBC Thursday throwback on Netflix, where it will stay at least until 2021. By then, we’ll surely see it migrate to whatever streaming service NBC will decide to launch.

But until then, it will likely stay in heavy rotation for many of the second generation Dunder Mifflinites until an Office obsession becomes awkward itself. For Netflix, they’re certainly hoping that this fixation keeps going – at least until Newsradio catches somebody’s eye again.

It just goes to show that in order to begin to cultivate a lifetime audience relationship you don’t need to be edgy to catch the eye of the next TV generation. Cringy works just fine.

To get the memo, go to Vanity Fair’s Why Is Gen Z Obsessed with The Office? That’s what she said.

 

  4   The Direct-to-Consumer Secret Weapon? Surprise - It's Radio

For most large marketers, radio isn’t a hidden tool. It’s a basic part of the messaging arsenal. But many brands that focus largely on digital media may find it a surprising impact player.

This is especially true for those who might rely on a secondary target for their success. Indeed.com is a good example of this. While their awareness was high with the user market, presumably Millennials who are in the job seeker category, radio provided the reach lift necessary to break through to the other side of the equation – those who were looking to hire. Using radio in their mix catapulted Indeed to another level of awareness and market presence.

Notice that that second target is being approached as their 9-to-5 selves. In essence, it’s a B-to-B message. What we always need to remember is that no matter what you call it, people perceive information as humans, not roles. Although they may compartmentalize, we’re still talking to human beings.

This is especially true for smaller brands that are looking to break through the ceiling created by companies that can outspend many small countries. Digital can only get so far before you need to cast a wider net.

So the irony is that in this age of media personalization, instantaneous on-demand content and AI driven lifestyles, perhaps one of the most effective routes to building a powerful brand and hitting those backdoor targets is by using the oldest mass medium of them all.

For a bit more, see Best Media for Modern B2C Brands? Old-Fashioned Radio,” and B2B or B2C? It Doesn’t Matter, We’re All Human,” both from Mediapost.

  5   Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones Are Both Calling It a Series. This is not TV's Endgame

It happens to all of them, of course. Well, other than “The Simpsons” some version of “Law and Order”, or “60 Minutes”, that is. “Seinfeld”, “The Sopranos”, “M*A*S*H”, shucks, even “Green Acres” or “Little House on the Prairie” all faded from view, taking with them a certain sense of community. Until the reboot craze took hold, that was mostly that for touchstone series.

We mourn for the loss of the first-run brilliance that made us cherish them, very often live. They’ll live on in syndication, but the anticipation of discovery will be over. Their ability to surprise us even when they expect them to be great was a sight to see.

But as “Seinfeld” begat “Friends”, which handed to “How I Met Your Mother”, or “ER” led to “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Lost” led to “The Walking Dead”, or even groundbreaking sitcom "Mary Tyler Moore Show" pivoting to drama "Lou Grant", television doesn't just survive, it thrives. It endures. It evolves.

The departure of “Big Bang Theory” reopens the question about the future value of the three-camera sitcom. The now classic couch-dependent serve and volley repartee seems like a throwback in an era defined by single-camera styles of “Modern Family” or “The Office”, or of Youtube Era celebrity vloggers.

Note to TV critics: audiences don’t tune in for cinematography choices like that. If a show clicks, it’s likely because of characters, storyline, concepts, genres. It’s the writing and storytelling, not lighting and framing. "Frasier" was a successful "Cheers" brand extension not because of the setting. In fact, it succeeded despite a wholesale change - other than the three-camera technique. But it takes more than good genes to succeed a second time around (we're looking at you, "Joey".)

Shakespeare created timeless drama. But it wasn’t because the Globe Theatre performed in the round.

And when Iron Throne is finally claimed on “Game of Thrones”, televisions won’t just fade to black (they can’t do THAT again, can they?). Sure, there’s a moderately strong argument that can be made that due to fragmentation and streaming behavior, the “Last of the Great Watercooler Shows” is passing.

Although we said the same thing when “Breaking Bad” ended. And “The Wire”.  And “Lost”, “West Wing”, “NYPD Blue”. Name your art. We feel a loss when a masterpiece goes into storage.

But humans have a funny way about them. We’re a creative lot. Shakespeare didn’t invent drama. Nor did the Greeks. Nor did George R.R. Martin.

Stick around. More great TV is coming, no matter how many cameras, streaming services, or costumes it takes to get there.

For another perspective on why TV content will not only endure, but thrive, read "TV is an art, not a science" in TVRev.com, or why the three-camera show will live on in "The Big Bang Theory’ is ending, but we shouldn’t let multi-cam sitcoms die. Here’s why,” from the LA Times.

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