Finlayson: Mobile, Social Key To Drive Viewers

SmithGeiger exec Andrew Finlayson says smartphones are a critically important tool for stations in driving viewership. “You can reach out to viewers watching Netflix or Amazon and tell them you have breaking news. Mobile screens really matter. Get people to reach for the remote.”


OTT may be transforming the way people watch television, but it also provides a way for TV stations to win new viewers, according to Andrew Finlayson, SVP digital media strategies at SmithGeiger.

Speaking at the PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas Thursday, Finlayson used results from a recent poll of 1,007 online interviews with TV viewers to map out a strategy for promoting traditional TV in an era of hyper audience fragmentation.

People watch TV when they are at home and that adds up to a big bump in usage during primetime, Finlayson said. Interestingly, 77% of primetime viewers are engaging in second screen behaviors during that daypart.

“You can reach out to viewers watching Netflix or Amazon and tell them you have breaking news,” Finlayson said. “Mobile screens really matter. Get people to reach for the remote.”

Smartphones are another critically important tool for driving viewership, and here, timing is everything.

“Lots of people start their day with their phones at 7 a.m.,” Finlayson said. “This is an important opportunity for promoting viewership.”


Likewise, mobile video viewing jumps at noon, he said. “People can consume video while they are away from the big TV screen,” Finlayson said. “Use this to promote primetime.”

The way people discover new things to watch on TV is changing, Finlayson added. “There’s less channel surfing. Sixty-three percent of people use social media to learn about TV programming. Partner with your social and digital teams to recognize this is a primary mechanism to get the word out.”

One way to capture attention on social and mobile media is to focus on what traditional TV does better than SVOD: Live TV.

“Eighty percent of TV consumers still routinely watch live TV each week,” Finlayson said, noting that even among viewers 25-34, 66% report spending time watching live TV each week.

Live news also offers a draw for viewers, Finalyson said. “Fifty-nine percent of people aged 18-24 consume news from a local TV station each week, whether they are doing so on a TV set, online or on a mobile device.”

Part of promoting live TV involves convincing people to check out live TV before they settle in for a night of watching SVOD, Finlayson said. “You have to get them to change the input. Many people turn on their TVs already in the SVOD universe.”

This is critically important because for the first time in SmithGeiger surveys, streaming viewing outstrips that of live TV in primetime, ranking 53% to live TV’s 52%.

A key to countering this trend is to tap info fandom, Finlayson said. “Eighty-six percent of viewers select at least one broadcaster — ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox — among their top 10 TV destinations.

“Find out why people love your network and apply it to the challenges you are facing.”

For other PromaxBDA Station Summit stories, click here and here.

Comments (2)

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tvn-member-1409622 says:

June 29, 2018 at 9:14 am

Great insights from one of the smartest, most thoughtful people in the business.

TheVoiceofTruth says:

June 29, 2018 at 11:58 am

Just exactly how does one get a promo on Netflix or Prime?

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