The TV landscape is more vast and fragmented than ever. Even with our DVRs, there’s often not enough time to watch everything you want without becoming a couch sloth. Yes, recent years have given us even more options with streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. But what has really changed the landscape is the sheer increase in the number of shows to watch. To put it in perspective, according to FX Networks research, there were 211 scripted shows that aired in 2009. Six years later, in 2015, there were nearly double that amount with 409. That doesn’t even include non-scripted series like reality shows. That’s a pretty staggering increase in such a short period of time. Add in the promotional amplification that some of these shows get on social media and it all makes sense why you have an incessantly growing “must watch” list. So what does this mean for your media strategy?
Media buyers, like myself, always do a little window shopping each season to see what we think will stand out (and continue standing past the first season). Will the show draw a large number of viewers? Will it hone in on a niche target audience? Does it have some contextual relevancy that aligns with our client’s brand message well? Is the quality or content of the show appropriate for our client’s brand? There’s certainly a lot to consider and no way to know how each show will perform, but if you can align your spot with the right new show early on, it can really put the cherry on your TV buy sundae.
Here’s a small sampling of what new shows are coming out this season that are worth a look:
Premiered: Wednesday, 9/21 @10pm on ABC
Premise: An unsuspecting lower-level cabinet member (played by Kiefer Sutherland) finds himself thrust into the role of president after Washington DC is attacked.
Media Strategy Takeaway: I think, for most people, anything with Kiefer Sutherland in it invokes giddiness, just because of how great he was in “24.” This is no exception. Designated Survivor seems to promise the same fast-paced political/conspiracy thriller story line with the same rock solid acting of Sutherland. This appeal is likely to draw not only a broad fan base amongst almost all age groups for both men and women (particularly 18-49), but one that is dedicated. Additionally, the competition isn’t too fierce in this time slot which will give it an advantage (NBC’s “Chicago PD” may be the only potential rival).
Premiered: Friday, 9/23 @9pm on Fox
Premise: Two priests try to help a suburban family plagued by demonic possession.
Media Strategy Takeaway: I don’t think anyone can deny that The Exorcist is one of the scariest movies of all time so bringing that concept to a TV series is enticing. It may appeal most to 18-34 year old horror junkies, fans of the original Exorcist movie (adults 50+), and of course anyone in between looking for a good scare. The Friday night “death slot” selected for this show’s airing, while sarcastically appropriate, will definitely prove to be its biggest challenge, particularly in reaching the younger crowd. But the power of DVR may compel them (see what I did there?).
The Good Place
Premiered: Thursday, 9/19 @10pm on NBC
Premise: Kristen Bell stars as a woman who finds herself in the afterlife, but soon realizes she was confused with someone else (much nicer than her) and she is technically not supposed to be there.
Media Strategy Takeaway: Not quite sure this one will have multiple seasons, but I think it has enough quirk and star power to at least draw a solid number of viewers. Between Kristen Bell’s inappropriate behavior and the hilarious rules of the afterlife, it’ll likely deliver some good laughs – particularly with women 25-54. Thursday night football will compete in the same timeslot, though, which could cause some interference with its ratings.
Rob & Chyna
Premiered: Sunday, 9/11 @9pm on E!
Premise: The show will follow the lives of Rob, the Kardashian brother who avoided the spotlight for several years as he battled depression, and his pregnant fiancé, Blac Chyna.
Media Strategy Takeaway: Love them or hate them, the Kardashians have a massive following, particularly with women 18-34, and Rob is no exception. The drama between Blac Chyna and Rob’s family on the most recent Kardashians season has strategically led up to this, which will offer their side of the story. Next quality TV series? Absolutely not. My next guilty pleasure? 100% yes.
Son of Zorn
Premiered: Sunday, 9/25 @8:30pm on Fox
Premise: This comedy blends animation and live action, as Zorn, an animated warrior (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), tries to win back his human ex-wife (Cheryl Hines of Curb Your Enthusiasm) and son while adjusting to life in suburbia. Tim Meadows (Saturday Night Live) plays the nerdy new husband and Zorn’s new enemy.
Media Strategy Takeaway: While this doesn’t grab my attention for the storyline, it certainly does for how innovative it is. Zorn is extremely reminiscent of He-Man from the animated TV show, “He-Man and Masters of the Universe” from the eighties, so this could do particularly well with pre and early millennial men. The time slot, however, (competing with Sunday night football) may be the biggest challenge Zorn faces.
Katelyn Thompson is Associate Media Director at RDW. When she’s not crafting integrated media plans and investigating new media trends for her clients, you can find her shamelessly enjoying old-timey hobbies like sewing and needle felting (it’s a thing). She’s also a huge fan of The Bachelor and taking hikes throughout Rhode Island with her handsome dog Timber.