At CMOintelligence, we track and analyze the on-air marketing of 24 general entertainment channels, eight streaming services and seven kids networks. For the month of March, we noticed some interesting changes.
First, there was no drop in promo time. In fact, for both the 20 cable networks and four broadcast networks we audit, average promo time per hour increased in March.
Nearly every network produced “Stay Home/Stay Safe” and “We’re All in This Together” spots and campaigns. They’ve ranged from “Everyone Needs a Little TLC” to Comedy Central’s “Animation Contamination.”
CBS dedicated 12 percent of their primetime promo time with #InThisTogether promos.
Discovery committed 13 percent of their primetime promotion to talent-led #StayHome spots.
CBS wasn’t the only broadcaster ramping up their brand messaging. Historically, brand promos account for 1-2 percent of promo time for broadcasters. For March, the average for ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC in aggregate was 6 percent.
On the Kids side, Nickelodeon used 11 percent of their promo time for #WashYourHands and #KidsTogether interstitials and brand spots.
Brand integrations for cable networks dropped 50 percent in March from an annual average of 4 percent of promo time to 2 percent. This isn’t surprising considering the postponement of theatrical releases.
Historically, studio integrations top all other advertiser categories by more than 30 percent. For March, studio integrations dropped from the number-one spot to number six.
On the streaming side, navigation to linear channel content on Hulu as a primary or secondary destination became the number-one navigation category, in part because of promotion for the launch of FX on Hulu on Disney-owned channels.
Nevertheless, Hulu was, overall, the most promoted streaming service by far, eclipsing competitive cross-channel promotion buys from Amazon, Quibi, Apple TV+, and Disney+. Interestingly, Netflix had a limited presence in March.
Bottom line, if you were watching linear TV last month, you saw a lot of Hulu messaging.
What are we to make of all this?
As we continue to shelter in place, more people will turn to television—linear and streaming. We have an opportunity, and an obligation, to use our promo time to inform, comfort, and help viewers find some escape. Trustworthy brand messages, new franchises that match changing viewing patterns, as well as promotional stunts to freshen current programming while we wait for production to ramp up again will not only help our viewers get through this difficult time, but help us build a stronger relationship with them.
If you’d like to know more about CMO Intelligence, visit us at cmointelligence.com.
On a side note, Lori Pate and I have partnered to launch CMO Marketplace. We’ll be using the power of the CMOi portal to connect buyers and sellers of creative services. Think of it as a social distancing marketing tool for agencies and clients. For more information on the marketplace visit cmomarketplace.com.
*CMOi audited networks include: A&E, ABC, AMC, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, Comedy Central, Discovery, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, E!, FOX, Freeform, FX, Hallmark, History, Lifetime, MTV, Nat Geo, NBC, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Paramount, SYFY, TBS, TLC, TNT, Universal Kids, USA, VH1
[Images of Lee Hunt from Promax June Conference 2019 courtesy of Memoryscape]