Reality TV used to be considered a safe bet. Much less expensive to create and market, the programs saved networks money, and kept viewers coming back. One by one, niches were filled, and then competing networks began marketing clones. Soon, the market was flooded. And, just like any flooded market, brands that fail to connect with their target consumers fail.
The latest reality show to debut to great expectations, and disappointing ratings, is ABC’s Rising Star. The CEO of 5WPR looked at the show’s current position, and has some advice for any brand out there trying to make its mark in a flooded market.
First, Rising Star picked the right time to enter the market. Summer can be a doldrum for TV viewing, and it is certainly the right time to debut a new singing competition. Timing, says Torossian, is vital to marketplace success.
Further, the market may be saturated, but consumers keep coming back for more. Sure, reality shows are not getting the massive “Early American Idol” ratings, but, across the board, reality TV still draws a huge audience, and there may be a piece of that pie ready and waiting for the right premise.
Unfortunately, Rising Star traded their premise in for a gimmick, and that may cost them. Encouraging viewers to vote in real time is an interesting idea, and appeals to the narcissist hiding in many talent show viewers. That inherent little judge that generally comes out as harmless and enthusiastic fandom, but can manifest in cruel criticism.
But, here’s a big issue with that premise. The US has several different time zones. So, if ABC wants to air the show in prime time, folks on the West Coast are getting it in the middle of the afternoon. Which, of course, means they’re not watching.
Another issue that Rising Stars may have missed is the trainwreck “reality” that many viewers tune in to see. Sure, producers probably thought they had a great mix when they chose Brad Paisley, Ludacris, and Kesha for their panel of judges… but, instead, they got toned down and amicable. Just look what that’s done for American Idol…
That leads to the final point. Give the customer what they want. Meet expectations. To be successful, you have to understand your market enough to connect with them on a consistent basis. Reality TV may have a wide range of expectations, but one of the most common expectations of any talent competition is the tension and drama inherent in the production. If Rising Star cannot find a way to manage that, you can bet it will become Falling Star in short order.
And what about you? How does your understanding of your customers inform your consumer PR? Because that understanding is the first step in standing out in a crowded market.