The Olympics have made for great fodder for social media discussion over the past week, not only for the performance of the athletes themselves but also for the performance of NBC in broadcasting the events. The network’s follies quickly spawned a Twitter hashtag meme, #NBCfail, because of issues like:
- Editing moments out of the opening ceremonies
- Persisting in showing key events only in tape-delay format in a world where “spoilers” are only a Tweet, Facebook post, or check into an email portal away
- Live streams that aren’t live
- Unavailability of live streams during prime time broadcasts
- Commercials during prime-time programming that give away results of yet-to-be-shown events
The biggest takeaway from all this is that NBC isn’t mindful of how its audience consumes content. Today’s consumer is governed by the 3 Ms – mobile, multi-tasking, and multi-screen, and the idea that content would only be available during prime time blocks on a network channel is absurd. NBC surely believes they are funneling viewers into one 4 hour block to maximize ratings, but I’d argue all they are really doing is costing themselves eyeballs.
Today’s viewer is conditioned in such a way that if they can’t get the content they want when they want it, they’ll often just move on to something else. So I’d guess many of the would-be viewers who can’t see the events as they happen probably aren’t tuning in at all. They’re too busy with a thousand other priorities to watch something they already know the result of, or they simply don’t care because so much other content on so many other platforms are begging for their attention.
Additionally, NBC’s costing themselves repeat viewers. We live in a world where movie fans will see their favorite film twice during the opening weekend. Making key events available in real time would likely just lead to them being watched twice by those who are able to – doubling the amount of eyeballs and increasing their advertising value.
And of course there’s the multi-screen element of this discussion. I pulled up NBC’s online program guide for streaming to see what was on during prime time coverage, and noticed no listings until 12 am. Does NBC truly not realize the percentage of people who watch tv with a smartphone in hand and/or a tablet at their side? There’s a huge opportunity to increase total viewership across platforms simply by expanding the amount of content available simultaneously. Multi-tasking is the rule now, not the exception.
So how does this all apply to you as a marketer? I’d say the first lesson is simply understanding how your customers consume content. Start by platform. Have you developed the mobile-optimized presence you need to compete for attention with those aforementioned multi-screen multitaskers? Research shows only 33% of advertisers have, so the answer is likely no. Beyond mobile, how much are you still investing in print yellow pages or other outdated, cost-inefficient models? How much more ROI could you drive by re-allocating those dollars to mobile or search? And if you are investing in mobile or search, have you put money into a mobile app that will be downloaded once and then forgotten, or have you invested in a responsive design that will leave your site viable across search and other finding methods?
What about the type of content you’re pushing out – is it being driven by feedback you see in customer satisfaction surveys, independent ratings & reviews, and social media? Do you have a plan in place to monitor those channels, and to generate more ratings & reviews feedback?
Is there insight you can mine Google Analytics for? Which pages on your site are your visitors spending the most time on, and can you create more like pages like them? What can you do to improve the experience on pages that users don’t seem to like?
Are your local pages tuned up in a way that will attract Google? Do they have location-specific information, unique localized content, and are they supported by claimed and accurate local listings programs?
NBC is relying on a consumption model 50 years in the making, and even though they may believe the ratings they’re achieving are a success, the truth is they could be faring much better (and in turn making more money). They’re settling for a bronze when a gold is attainable. Take stock of how your current and potential customers consume content, including on what platform and what types, and look at ways to re-align your budgets and strategies to better leverage their usage habits and interests. Otherwise, much like NBC, you may make the winners’ podium, but not being handed the medal you really want.