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What Old-School TV Stations Get About Content Strategy Today

You and I may have cut the cord, but programming managers for TV and streaming services understand a few things about creating and deploying successful content strategy.

While some might look at the fact that cable/satellite lost 3 million subscribers last year as a sign of failure, it’s essential not to disregard the many things that these behemoth content creators get right. They balance the scale between audience and advertisers. They know when to double-down on a line-up and when to throw in the towel.

In modern content marketing, not unlike a TV network, we employ content strategy to meet business goals. But, most often, we are our own advertisers. This creates a dilemma.

So I ask myself, if this weren’t content I created/published, would I pay to advertise here? If not, I’ve just taken a brutally honest look at the value of that content. And it’s when I get honest that I begin to maximize the value of that content the way the “original content marketers” do.

Segmentation Is Success

Networks understand the value of segmentation. In the traditional TV sense, this comes in the form of different channels showing various types of content at specified times of the day to reach unique audiences.

For example, Disney owns ESPN, the Disney Channel, Nat Geo and now Fox. For the most part, these are different segments of their audience who need different content.

If we look at the station level, you similarly see content further segmented on ESPN. For basketball fans you have The Jump. Then you have general sports programmings like Jalen and Jacoby.

In the streaming world, “You Might Also Like” sections use machine learning segment content for consumers. This reflects more how more people watch programming today.

Timing Matters

If we dig deeper into the Disney Channel, we see that they show different kinds of programming at different times of the day. In the evenings, they focus more on family entertainment. Earlier in the day, they have shows for their youngest Disney fans. In the after school hours, they hit that seven to pre-teen range.

Stations employ analytics, focus groups, surveys, Nielsen ratings, and other market research tools to understand when and what people are watching as well as the ideal frequency.

And even if those fans stream that program on-demand at 2 A.M., they’re still tracking that data and making data-driven decisions.

Story Arcs Keep People Coming Back

Whether it’s a reality show, cooking show, or the news, people need a reason to keep tuning in. So showrunners don’t create disjointed storylines. Even the 90’s favorite Seinfeld, a “show about nothing”, has clear story arcs that carry their loyal audience from episode to episode and season to season.

People Love What’s Trending

Saying you need a story arc doesn’t mean you sacrifice what’s trending for a consistent story. You can incorporate trending topics into your content while maintaining your story arc. Some shows that did this well and were rewarded with many seasons include:

  • South Park, The Simpson’s and similar adult animation
  • Law&Order and similar crime dramas
  • ER, Grey’s Anatomy and similar medical dramas

But on top of that, they always welcomed new viewers. Even if you’d never seen an episode before, you could jump right in and start enjoying that content.

Believe me. That didn’t happen by mistake.

It’s content strategy at it’s finest.

Cross-Promotion Strengthens Loyalty

Old school TV doesn’t just carry a story arc (message) across one show. They cross-promote other programs on the same station, other owned stations, as well as advertising branded merch and other owned properties.

For example, different shows share story arcs to expand their audience for multiple shows. They show commercials for other programs. And they overlap content strategy among similar shows to strengthen their base.

When a station can keep a person tuned in to their station across more programs, they have more time to reinforce advertising messages.

Does that sound like something you and I should try to do as business owners and marketers?

Create Content People Want

TV Stations and Streamers like Netflix don’t keep producing shows when no one’s watching, as a general rule. They watch their analytics and evaluate whether the content they provide is resonating. They aim not to disappoint.

Are you creating content that your target audience wants to consume?

It’s time to take a hard look at that. But there’s one final critical piece to the puzzle.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

It doesn’t matter what kinds of phenomenal content you create if it doesn’t help you meet business goals. Old school networks know what their business goals are. They build their content around those goals. They continually measure to ensure they’re producing the right kind of content. And in the face of the cord-cutting trend, they’re not laying down and dying. They’re evolving with this new reality.

Is your content helping you get measurable business results? Find the talent that can help you generate content you’d want to advertise on. Get started with a free trial today.


Leigh M. is a full-time writer who specializes in Marketing, B2B, and Healthcare writing for businesses promoting their brands through engaging and informative books, articles and copy. She has MBA level education, a strong Medical Management background as well as extensive Marketing, SEO and Analytics experience. She leverages advanced content optimization tools like Yoast, Grammarly Pro, Moz, Advanced Marketing Institute, Hemingway Editor and more to deliver polished content ready to meet content objectives. Leigh has the heart of a teacher and her clients appreciate that she can break down high-level topics like biology, nutrition, risk management, analytics, branding, technology, as she shares information in a friendly and informative way. She receives stellar reviews from clients for her consistent customer care, high-quality product and dynamic creativity.

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