Social networks have become more effective marketing tools than traditional media, says Fox Broadcasting’s VP of entertainment Kevin Reilly. Speaking at the MIPCOM Reilly said using social networks to generate buzz ahead of show premieres has helped harness new audiences.
“Many of our promotional messages, and at times even the shows themselves, weren’t penetrating, so we decided that if we let our audience see a show before it premieres and before our marketing reaches critical mass, the power of the social networks can create loyalists who are committed to helping spreading the word,” he said. “These brand ambassadors can recruit audience in a far more convincing way than any campaign.”
Fox used the technique for music comedy Glee which it previewed on TV four months ahead of its premier. It received disappointing viewer ratings according to Reilly. “But the purpose was to light up the social networks,” he said. “We then streamed it on Hulu and released songs on iTunes for free to keep the chatter going. The series premiered as a bonafide hit, which I’m certain wouldn’t have been the case if we had marketed it in a more traditional way.”
For New Girl, it pre-released an episode on iTunes and video-on-demand before airing the pilot. “We had 2m downloads in the two weeks prior to airing, and word of mouth on Facebook and Twitter was extremely positive,” he said. “We spiked on viewer awareness and intend to view, and the show opened with the biggest comedy ratings Fox has had in 10 years.”
Reilly highlighted the increasingly important role of data in managing an increasingly complex and fragmented viewer landscape. “We have to think more creatively with data, both about how we manage it with our willing audience, and also managing the metadata in our video libraries,” he said.