With the fall TV season well underway, it’s a good time to take stock of what’s working or not in both new and returning shows. We recently evaluated the first season of a promising new program to identify opportunities for improvements, and to gauge the viability of future seasons. This type of research is called Series Maintenance Research or SRM. This is one of E-Poll’s core competencies and has worked extremely well for clients when implemented in combination with E-Poll’s successful promo testing strategy.
SERIES MAINTENANCE RESEARCH (SRM)
Whether a series is new or returning, Series Maintenance Research (SRM) can give it the boost it needs to build, or expand its audience.
Testing the first six episodes of the program, we started the research with an online discussion group, our qualitative phase. This was followed by a quantitative phase involving an online survey built, in part, upon the qualitative findings from the discussion group.
The SRM resulted in a decision to move forward with the second season, after airing only the first episode, and broaden the storyline surrounding a particular character.
Phase 1: Qualitative Online Discussion Group
The discussion group format provided a deep, qualitative sense of what viewers liked or didn’t like about the program, as well as what they wanted to see in the show. We recruited 20 people matching the desired viewer profile to participate in this moderated online discussion group.
During this time, episodes from the season were streamed and viewed by the group using E-Poll’s secure MediaSafe technology. We posed in-depth questions about the episodes, and the program overall, throughout the group experience. Participants were encouraged to enter into the conversation several times a day, at their convenience, to answer newly posted questions, as well as to respond to the comments and answers of other group members. One participant said of the show, “I want to see the relationship between two of the main characters developed more. In the second episode I like how [Character A] revealed they had never been in a relationship and how [the main characters] really bonded. I think these serious moments really add to the light hearted moments and make me want to learn more about these characters.”
Participants were able to interact with each other, as well as the moderator. This enabled us to obtain attitudes, perceptions and recommendations regarding the show’s themes, characters, relationships, writing, storylines, etc. This information was also used to inform the quantitative survey, in order to ensure we included the most important, and relevant questions. E-Score Programs can setup this step for existing shows.
Phase 2: Quantitative Survey
After completing the online discussion group, we recruited a larger group of target viewers to participate in an online survey, and validate our small group findings. These respondents watched the same episodes as those presented to the discussion group and were asked awareness, appeal, likes/dislikes, and ratings questions after each episode. Additionally, diagnostic and evaluative questions were asked about the season as a whole (characters, relationships, writing, storylines.) We also captured intent to view and intent to advocate after each episode, and after the final episode; in regard to the series.
After completing the SRM research on the program, we then randomly exposed several
promos to a single group of target viewers to see how attention-grabbing, appealing and persuasive the ads were in getting people to watch the show. Among other things, key themes, elements, characters were evaluated. Our findings revealed that the promo does a good job representing the
program well. The results helped guide marketing decision makers in selecting the promos for the shows launch campaign.
SRM and Promo Testing research are two sides of the same coin that work together to increase the appeal of a show’s content as well as the effectiveness of its promotions. Using this combined improvement approach constitutes a Fall Makeover methodology that is aimed at maximizing a show’s potential, for the remainder of the current, and perhaps future seasons.