Three Trends to Watch: August 2017

 In Blog

When there are cultural shifts, it is important to emphasize different aspects of your character and content. The news cycle online and on television impacts your radio and podcast audience.

Jeff McHugh outlines three key trends that can affect your content and your character.

– Randy

Steve Jobs: “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”

Your audience’s tastes are changing faster than ever.  We can observe trends through what is working and not working on television. Here are three new trends to be aware of and how to address them.

1. America wants escape. Suddenly, ten game shows are on network television. CBS is doing Candy Crush. Fox has Beat Shazam. The number one show in America is America’s Got Talent. Number two, with half of the audience, is 60 Minutes.  Old game shows like Match Game, To Tell The Truth, Celebrity Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid, Battle Of The Network Stars and The Gong Showhave been revived.

Andy Kubitz, head of scheduling at ABC told Entertainment Weekly, “The news and everything else is so heavy. This is escapist programming.”

Some conservative talk shows are choosing to cut back on the amount of Trump content based on audience feedback. If you do talk politics, make it funny. Steven Colbert of CBS’s The Late Show has beaten Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s The Tonight Show in the ratings since Trump’s inauguration.

What to do: Lean towards more fun, light, and heart-warming content than usual. Consider increasing the percentage of interactive games to your content. Balance heavier topics with something brighter or funnier. Good news stories are particularly popular in contrast to all the negative news. Compartmentalize politics within the newscast, and broadcast only carefully verified facts.

2. Decline of the anti-hero. Remember a few years ago when audiences loved conflicted characters with an evil side? For instance, Mafia boss Tony of The Sopranos and Leonardo DiCaprio from Wolf Of Wall Street. Audiences in 2017 are more likely to identify with Wonder Woman than with Walter White. Watch award shows and you will see fans rooting for the good guy, or girl, again. This is probably another side effect of the current US political climate; if people want an edgy character who goes against the rules, all they have to do is go online or watch any TV newscast.

What to do: Stay true to yourself, but if your on-air character is rude, edgy, confrontational, and flawed, now is the time to balance that out by highlighting your more endearing traits. Jerks are not in season now.

3. Decline in television viewership. Teens and millennial TV usage is down 40% in the last 5 years as they gravitate to online shows and content from their mobile devices. The drop in TV viewership in the last 6 months is the largest ever seen since television was invented.

The older audience’s TV viewership has dropped less, but cable penetration rates in most markets have dropped from 70-80% ten years ago to less than half in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and other cities. Phoenix is down to 31% of their residents subscribing to cable.

TV shows used to be common ground in which radio shows could base a relatable, on-air conversation, but those days are gone.

What to do: Talk about something other than TV shows. Pay attention to the latest TV ratings and only discuss the biggest of the big programs. Of course, you want to reflect pop culture and talk about the most talked about shows, like Game Of Thrones. When you do discuss a show, succinctly explain everything about the show – storyline, characters, premise of the show – for the majority of your audience that has never seen it.  Always use sound clips from the show to help listeners understand what you are talking about.

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