TV Taps Other Screens To Get Viewers To Sample New Shows

NBC gets the word out about new TV shows with trips to tablets and the set-top box

Ironside (NBCUniversal)

To make the most money, TV networks like NBC, ABC and CBS need viewers to watch shows the traditional way – on the good ol’ boob tube.

To get TV aficionados to try new shows like freshman ABC sitcom “The Goldbergs” or NBC cop drama “Ironside,” however, the TV outlets seem to think any screen is just as good as the one on the TV set.

Take NBC, for example. The Peacock will make the debut episodes of both sitcom “Welcome to the Family” and “Ironside” available online via NBC.com, online-video streaming site Hulu and the websites of NBC-affiliated TV stations.  Pilots for both programs will also be made available through two apps for mobile devices’; through video-on-demand on video distributors  Cablevision’s Optimum TV, Charter, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Cox, DIRECTV, DISH, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon FiOS; and through digital download partners, including iTunes and Amazon. The shows will be available September 10 through October 3 –  even though the launch episodes of both programs will appear on NBC’s airwaves during that time.

The move suggests the big broadcast networks are growing increasingly aware that some portion of the audience that in past years would tune in to a traditional broadcast on TV are, simply put, gone.  Estimates from market-research firm eMarketer predict ‘ average time speit by U.S. adults with digital media per day will surpass the average time spent with TV for the first time in 2013.

According to eMarketer, the average adult will spend over 5 hours per day online, on non-voice mobile activities or with other digital media this years, compared to 4 hours and 31 minutes watching television. Daily TV time will actually be down slightly this year, while digital media consumption will be up 15.8%.

To make the most people aware of new TV programs, then, the networks must tap methods other than running promos on their networks, though that method remains quite effective. To be sure, CBS has increased the number of minutes it uses for promos in its summer hit “Under the Dome,” well aware that the show reaches millions of people each week on a linear basis.

But the networks are also tapping other methods, even if it means running the programs in full in new-tech arenas.

ABC, for its part, is streaming pilots for  three new l comedies – “The Goldbergs,” “Trophy WIfe” and “Back in the Game” – on WatchABC.com, its ABC mobile app and on Hulu – all three weeks prior to the shows’ TV debut. CBS’ traditional fall preview is being made available via on-demand via various cable operators and TV-station websites, as well as on TV itself.

The broadcast networks have experimented with alternate venues for “sneak previews” of their pilots for the last several years, Among the programs streamed on Hulu prior to their boob-tube debut Fox’s “The New Girl,” “NBC’s “Smash,” ABC’s “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23” and Fox’s “The Mindy Project.”

By some TV-executive estimates, as many as 75% to 80% of all new TV programs fail. With that in mind, its little wonder TV networks are trying to follow their audiences’ new video-watching habits to attempt to bring them back to the living-room couch.