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How Local TV Can Build TV Viewer Loyalty With Live Events

August 14th, 2018   ||    by Susan Kuchinskas   ||    No Comments

Comic-Con, the popular annual pop culture convention, kicked off in July at the San Diego Convention Center, but some of the gathering’s most exciting events took place around the city, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Production companies and networks hope to build TV viewer loyalty with so-called “activations”—live events such as Hulu’s reproduction of the bed and breakfast in Castle Rock and a Jack Ryan training field to promote Amazon’s new drama.

National broadcasters and cable stations are turning to live events to build connections with fans and get them excited about programming. Local stations are already great at producing live events—and they know that one of the best ways to build audience loyalty is to get out into the community.

Let’s see if we can steal some ideas from the big guys to make these events more attractive to fans and more profitable for stations.

Focus on Issues, Not Programs

One way to use live events to increase TV viewer loyalty is to focus on hot button issues within the community—instead of personalities or programs.

Disney-ABC-owned Freeform held a daylong summit for consumers in which producers and actors discussed topics like dispelling stereotypes about millennials, and how dating and love have changed in our hyperconnected world. IndieWire says the event resonated way beyond the physical, generating 1 billion media impressions.

The More, the Merrier

Cashmere Agency, a Los Angeles marketing agency, set up a showing of the pilot of FX’s Atlanta in an Atlanta area drive-in. To build buzz, the agency invited local car clubs and social media influencers to a screening at the historic Starlight Drive-in, according to the LA Times. Including car clubs extended the reach of the promotion while attracting people who might not have come out for the screening alone.

This is an important tip for stations contemplating live events: When you include community groups, they help market for you and can widen the audience. Besides, when you offer these groups exposure and the chance to participate, it’s another way to build loyalty.

Don’t Forget the Merch

CBS announced the formation of a live experiences unit dubbed CBSX. The new unit will produce a range of events, some free and some paid, at “iconic venues.” The idea is to let fans engage with CBS entertainment brands in what the network called “a new immersive dimension,” a.k.a. the real world. The first event will be an evening with CBS Sunday Morning Live.

The announcement said that these live events will also let CBS expand its merchandising. This is something for local TV stations to consider, too. Selling attractive, branded merchandise at live events creates an additional revenue stream while reminding fans of the station or programs when they’re back home.

Partner With Local and National Brands

Local businesses are often eager to get involved in their TV stations’ live events. It’s a great way to get exposure beyond a 30-second spot, while building good will, and some owners would love being seen on television. Businesses can offer prizes, provide merchandise, or host food and drink. Stations can also involve national brands, which are always looking for ways to reach consumers directly. In addition to signage and use of their logos, stations can offer national brands the ability to provide samples and coupons.

Go Multiplatform

Why limit the live event to only the people who are there live? Stations can exponentially increase the reach and buzz for their events by offering live streaming. Let fans participate vicariously via Facebook Live, an app, and the station’s website. In addition to TV viewer loyalty, live streaming advertising opportunities may be opening up.

Every station wants more loyal viewers. Live events are an important tool—but they can be resource-intensive. These tips can help stations maximize the impact of their events, and even garner incremental revenue.


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