Huddled in my living room on a bitter cold New Year’s weekend, I watched a discussion of the movie theater business on CNBC. Insiders were pointing to “usage” as the reason for a dismal season at the box office. The premise being it’s easier and more convenient to grab a Redbox or watch Netflix from the comfort of one’s living room.
Yet – everyone on my street has seen Star Wars at the theater, abandoning the warm comfort of their living room for the theater … on the coldest, most miserable stretch of winter we’ve seen in years.
Being the consulate focus group moderator, I started probing. A couple of consistencies:
- Star Wars was something I wanted to see
- Everyone is talking about it
- It was the only time I went to the theater in the past 6 months
Plus – all of the families had someone in the home watching Stanger Things on Netflix. Wait: Everyone on my street has Netflix? Wow. That’s the real stunner.
A little more probing convinced me it wasn’t all about the convenience (although that was a major factor). It was the compelling content. Most agreed that if Stranger Things concluded with a major movie released to theaters … they would go see it. No issues with ticket prices, finding parking, leaving their homes, etc.
We asked the same question to fans of our large market radio station. Same answer: Yes, they would go see a Stranger Things finale if it was at the theater. But other than Star Wars, there was nothing else really worth seeing on today’s lineup.
The Parallel In Our World
As smart speakers and personal assistants flood the consumer market, those of us in the mass media are rushing to get our content available to Alexa or Google Home. That’s not enough. There are thousands of “12 in-a-row” less talk, ,#1 hit music stations. Yet there is only one Matt Siegel, Eric Ferguson, or Jagger & Kristi. They are Netflix caliber content.
“12 In A Row” on the radio is the equivalent of The X Factor on TV … easy to miss.
This year, several hyper-local radio station were purchased by EMF to find a home for their K-Love brand. The stations had full signals and were stand-alone properties … ripe for picking. The K-Love brand is very well programmed and compelling, but 180 degrees from what several were programming including The Sound in Los Angeles and WBRU in Providence. Fans of these stations literally held a wake to mourn the loss of the brands. Can you imagine that happening for the “12-In-A-Row” #1 Hit Music Station? No. For the same reason we can’t imagine a “Save The Voice” campaign if Adam, Blake and the rest called it quits.
Usage is important and it’s imperative our product is easy to use. But it’s still content that drives loyalty and builds a fanbase. Fanbases usually mean strong ROI.
Content is expensive. I get it. But Netflix isn’t crowding their platform with The Jersey Shore. Hulu is the online place for reality re-runs – which is why Netflix is building Apple level fandom while Hulu is an afterthought.
My goal is to one day have people on my street speak as passionately about one of my radio stations as they do about Netflix. A boy can dream … right?