Summer TV: viewers move beyond sport stranglehold
Advertisers and media agencies are shifting their assumptions that big broadcast sport events are the only certainty for reaching large television audiences over summer as entertainment formats continue their rise with viewers.
McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Line and retailer Bedshed are among the brands that backed an alternative summer sport strategy with entertainment formats over the 2019-20 summer season - with breakout results.
Carnival Cruise Line said during its sponsorship of 10’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, which launched on January 5, it doubled traffic to its website and increased 66 per cent over same period in 2019.
10 went early last year with the January 13 launch of I’m a Celebrity and brought it forward again to January 5 for its 2020 premier. The strategy worked.
Network 10’s chief content officer, Beverley McGarvey, says because many people have returned to work in early January and kids are not back at school, 10’s hunch was that a noisy family entertainment show could work.
“We put a toe in the water last year, launching I’m a Celebrity on January 13 and this year we went a week earlier,” she says. “We were up 6 per cent on the 2019 season and commercial TV audiences lifted 6 per cent in that first week too. It also gave us great momentum into Australian Survivor.”
I’m A Celebrity delivered an average Total People figure of 798,000 per episode this year compared to Seven’s Big Bash League with 405,000 and 935,000 for Nine’s Australian Open.
“We put a toe in the water last year, launching I’m a Celebrity on January 13 and this year we went a week earlier. We were up 6 per cent on the 2019 season and commercial TV audiences lifted 6 per cent in that first week too. It also gave us great momentum into Australian Survivor.”
“Marketers, particularly, felt Australians had been used to sport over summer for so long they couldn’t see audiences receptive to a change,” says Network 10 chief sales officer, Rod Prosser. “Those perceptions are shifting now. There’s been a lot of conditioning from us with agencies and marketers to really let them know the viewing landscape over summer has changed. The fact we don’t have a marquee sport event over summer doesn’t mean we lay down and run a bunch of repeats.”
Prosser says the strategy is paying off commercially for 10 and its partners. He says 10 saw a year on year revenue percentage increase in the solid double digits over the same time last year and sponsors are seeing strong results from advertising and brand integrations.
He says rather than McDonald’s lying low over summer because of KFC’s cricket deal, the chain backed I’m A Celebrity as an alternative entertainment format. Others like Carnival and retail chain Bedshed have also seen strong results with their sponsorship integrations.
"Bedshed saw an increase in sales for the same promotional period last year. The strong results were also highlighted in our brand tracking research. Our sponsorship experience with I’m A Celebrity has been fantastic."
Brands weigh in
Bedshed national marketing manager Luke Clarke says the initial “nervousness” of his team in making the brand integrations work was “unwarranted”.
“The results during the period have been very positive,” he says. “Bedshed saw an increase in sales for the same promotional period last year. The strong results were also highlighted in our brand tracking research with further increases in our unprompted awareness, prompted awareness and our positioning as bedroom experts. Our sponsorship experience with I’m A Celebrity has been fantastic. The execution exceeded our expectation.”
Initiative’s chief strategy officer Sam Geer says Carnival’s sponsorship was outstanding for both brand building and driving sales.
“This is a brilliant example of a brand activating in culture to drive business results – achieving both brand and lower funnel objectives through a partnership like this is exactly the type of work we strive for,” he says.
Carnival’s director of marketing and PR, Kara Glamore says the ties between Carnival, I’m A Celebrity and Julia Morris was important for the company.
“The additional link through social across I’m A Celebrity, Julia Morris, Carnival-owned channels, and the broader digital strategy and consumer promotion created further benefits to the partnership,” she says.