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Getting IT

October 1, 2008

Some people, especially those in the publishing field, like to blog about the latest works of fine literature they have just consumed.  Me, not to so much.  I like to watch TV.  Nothing caps a night of wrestling a squrimy boy to bed and cajoling a 9 year old to PLEASE take a shower like sitting down in front of the set with a cold bowl of ice cream.   Not so much reality TV, with the exception of “The Amazing Race” — more scripted dramas and comedies.  The shows that most critics have written off as a dying breed.

So, what do you do to promote your product in an age where everyone is saying it’s obsolete?  You make use of as many of the social media tools that are relevant for your customer/viewer.  That’s what ABC has done.  Of late, ABC has:

* Inserted a DVD into TV Guide with the pilot episodes for 3 shows, including “Pushing Daisies” and “Private Practice.”  These shows premiered last season, but for viewers who might be thinking of trying them out this season, this gives them an easy entry to figure out what is going on and how to follow the plots lines. 

* Produced podcasts for many of it’s shows.  My favorites are the ones for “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost”.  They use the executive producers most of the time, and it gives you some insight into what they and the writers were thinking when they created the shows. 

* Created a “starter kit” for a whole bunch of shows, downloadable free on iTunes.  These nuggets give you just enough information about a particular show to pick up what is going on when you watch it. 

* Allowed free viewings of shows using the full episode downloader at abc.com.

In an era where major networks are hemorrhaging viewers, ABC is smart to find ways to engage them in the places where they live.  They may not always be home on Thursday nights at 9pm, but in the era of TiVo and the Internet, that’s no reason to alienate them.  Contrast that to the CW last season who pulled off full episodes of “Gossip Girl” because they wanted to improve their real-time viewership stats.  This was greeted rather poorly in the blogosphere and with the show’s youthful fan base, and thankfully it’s back on the site for viewing this season.  That was a quite a night, when I settled in front of the computer to watch an episode I missed, and was greeted with “Where are the full episodes of ‘Gossip Girl’ apology.  You did not want to be around me that night. 

I certainly see some analogies between what ABC has done and the publishing industry’s need to be more social.  Of course, the marketing budget for an average TV show is probably more than my whole division spends in a decade.  But there are cost effective ways to get your message out online, and we need to do more of that to stay relevant and get our message our to our readers.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2008 12:03 pm

    This is perhaps the most useful blog I have read all week. I have to cram all my TV time into the 3 months of the year in between semesters and I’ve been dying to jump into Pushing Daisies and catch up with Grey’s Anatomy (I left off at season 2), but I can’t keep up with plot lines throughout the fall or spring. Rock on overly liberal and politically correct ABC.

  2. October 1, 2008 12:55 pm

    I aim to please, Al.

  3. October 2, 2008 1:39 am

    I think it does hurt that so few people in publishing are out there praising (whether in blogs or elsewhere) the books their companies publish. A lot of those employees are not readers or are not vocal readers. As review coverage has declined, it is not just aggressive self promoting authors that are needed but a whole team effort – not just within the walls of the publishing house. Granted, this may be easier with fiction or with mainstream nonfiction.

    There is a perception that watching TV is easier than reading a book, and those are people we need to win back to books.

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