Marketing Content in TV’s 3rd Golden Age (2/5)

by Frank Delmelle - August 21, 2015

An Epic Essay in 5 Episodes Exploring ‘The Future of Content’. 

How do you market Content (with an entertaining capital C) in times of “total audience fragmentation”? Since even the most authoritative voices tend to scatter their answers across a.o. the 2 million blogpost people publish every day, we fitted their very best shots into the following neat, five-part article series. Enjoy!

If the Content industry were a sandwich, you might want to imagine the piece of bread on top to be the artists and the piece of bread at the bottom to be the audience. When it comes to the filling in the sandwich, however, not to mention its garnish, chances are your mental picture turns into an uneasy wriggle, squeezed in the middle.

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More is needed than a metaphor, in other words: if we’re to get to grips with the marketing of Content in TV’s so-called 3rd Golden Age, an actual, imperfect, epic narrative seems sine qua non. “Storytelling,” after all, “helps us understand each other,” to quote from Kevin Spacey’s memorable MacTaggart Lecture.

‘Marketing Content in TV’s 3rd Golden Age’ therefore tells the story of 3 brothers — The Creative Brother, The Corporate Brother and The Capricious Brother — and their (in)fight for control of the Content market.

Not entirely satisfied by his first four herculean attempts to get his Content discovered, The Corporate Brother turns to tactic number five…


Determined to detect the ‘ultimate’ future-proof platform, ‘The Corporate Brother’ engages in short-lived flirts with YouTube’s Original Channel (a.k.a. Google TV), Comcast's 'YouTube Killer' Watchable and what was once promised to be Apple TV, before running into the arms of live streaming, embracing a very trending

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Liqueur brand St Germain recently teamed up with director Floria Sigismondi for a stylish experiment viewable only on Twitter’s Periscope live streaming app. “Peep Show,” which stars actress Hannah Simone (“New Girl”), simulates old-fashioned erotica (…). 4 live shows, filmed by Sigismondi on an iPhone, were available to Periscope viewers only for 24 hours. During the shows, viewers were able to tweet their suggestions for the next scene via Twitter.

The race between MeerKat, Periscope and likely Google to dominate the latest trend in video consumption is significant but must be chalked up to a bigger trend that's been in the making for the past decade at minimum. (…) Live streaming is the latest trend to accelerate the splintering.“

Drawback: “By no means is live streaming going to kill or even revolutionize traditional media. People are not supercomputers; we’re not natural big data crunchers. (…)”


If we can’t agree on the where,” The Corporate Brother subsequently concludes, “let’s agree that UX is key. Consultants –c.q. at PwC – offer welcome words of consolation: “What’s clear is that consumers are consistently demonstrating that they will migrate to those offerings that combine an outstanding user experience – attractive contentassortment, great discovery, social community – with an intuitive interface offering increased personalisation and access across devices.”

Here’s the catch, however: UX is splintered just as bad. Spacey’s conclusion: “The device and the length is less important than the story.”

Vii. “plan, plan, plan”

Inspired by ‘Releasing Amy: the inside story of the Winehouse documentary’, ‘The Corporate Brother’ shifts his herculean quest towards distribution planning optimization.

“The marketing strategy for AMY (the documentary) included… the creation of a teaser campaign – unique for a feature documentary – that made headlines around the world, to a broad-reaching publicity campaign, managed by agency Organic, that engaged music, film, news and lifestyle media. We worked with two brilliant creative agencies, Intermission and Wonderland, to create our materials that would force people to reassess Amy. We wanted to create a look and feel for the film that differentiated it from the masses of Amy Winehouse imagery that exists everywhere anyway. We needed to stand out, feel fresh and be cinematic. Every decision made was mindful of making Amy feel like a film that everyone is talking about, one you simply must see in the cinema…”

Image title… Then Amy’s father has said that the film is misleading and contains basic untruths… Image: screenshot from

What actually got “everyone talking about” AMY, however, wasn’t part of the plan: it was only when Amy’s father said that the film was misleading and contained basic untruths, that all heads turned accordingly (i.e. away from the docu’s meticulously planned distribution effort.)

Twin Peaks’ entire content plan (new season due 2016 – or 2017?) is fan-owned de facto.

Viii. “Slice it up”

Bring on labour n° 8,” ‘The Corporate Brother’ shouted: “Slice up that content, make it snackable, i.e. fit for the audience’s alleged ‘shortening attention spans’ and slippery social streams. (…) I want to see trailers, gifs, cinemagraphs, snaps, … Panem et circenses. Let them eat cake. Serve the content snacks!”

Movie trailer views on mobile on YouTube increased by 88% YOY,” according to Google, underlining the importance of “The Micro-Moments Before Showtime.” Netflix, most notoriously, saw these micro-moments coming: “On February 27th 2015, millions of people gathered around their televisions with several bags of popcorn, a couple bottles of wine and possibly a few friends to watch House of Cards. The official trailer for season 3 already has more than 5 million views which is a viral feat that most content marketers will only dream of achieving in their careers.”

Image titleGoogle’s “Micro-Moments Before Showtime”


1) The social platforms - content distribution oligopolists in their own right - where these content snacks seem to thrive, change their algorithms every other week. E.g.: until recently, media brands / entertainment brands were favorited by Facebook. The blue giant’s newest newsfeed algorithm, however, leaves media brands at the mercy of the user once more…

2) “It’s tempting to cut corners and skimp on quality in the chase for eyeballs, especially if you’re new to content marketing, but sabotaging yourself early with less-than-stellar content can reduce internal buy-in and stamp out support for your content marketing plan.”

3) “Our feeling is that the world is not asking for more content. There’s enough content out there. (…) You have to build a team of elite storytellers,” says Sebastian Tomich, Head of The NYT’s T Brand Studio.

And 4) Netflix, Spacey, e.a. for their part, question audiences’ ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), as they see dramatically lengthening attention spans a.k.a. binge-watching. Dixit Spacey: “(…) say nothing of the audiences’ attention span. For years, particularly with the advent of the internet, people have been griping about lessening attention spans. But if someone can watch an entire season of a TV series in one day, doesn’t that show an incredible attention span? “When the story is good enough, people can watch something three times the length of an opera.”

Netflix, Spacey et al. question audiences’ ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), asthey see dramatically lengthening attention spans a.k.a. #binge-watching.

IX. “Stick to the schedule(s)”

Linear, meanwhile,remains very much alive: “There’s still a taste for watching television as it’s broadcast,the shared experience of watching that final episode that MUST beseen before anyone tells you how it ends, whether it’s The Great British Bake Off or Broadchurch.”(…) “Americans view just 17 channels despite record number to choose from”… which unfortunately doesn’t really gloss over the factthat “broadcast ratings have declined more than 20% the past decade and a half.”(…) (See also: Why AMC isn't cutting the cord.)

More recently, however, analysts point at a ‘cord cutting triumph’: data show that “the traditional pay TV bundle is slowly dying. (…) Q2 2015 pay TV services suffered the largest quarterly loss of subscribers in the industry’s history.” Expert explanation: “This big subscriber loss is just one more data point showing that traditional pay TV services are getting significantly disrupted by the rise of online content streaming.”

“Media stocks have been slammed following the accelerated decline in pay-TV subscribers,” Bloomberg signalled at the end of the Summer of 2015. “Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger and his team have a big message for the media industry: Everything has changed. Juenger not only downgrades Disney and Time Warner; he also says analysts need to change the way they think about valuing this industry all together, as both of the industry's major revenue streams—pay subscribers and advertisers—are in jeopardy.” (…)

Continue to episode 3.

Frank Delmelle

Content Strategist