When the football season kicks off each fall, longtime Spawn client GCI launches a campaign for the season. The timing makes perfect sense: Research shows that live sports remain a major reason that TV customers keep the cord, and we know that football-watching is a compelling reason for consumers to sign up for TV services.
However, a deep dive into a research project conducted by Hooligan revealed an intriguing shift in consumer behavior and inspired an effective shakeup of GCI’s football season offer.
Scouting Consumer Attitudes
In summer 2018, Spawn’s insights team, Hooligan, conducted research to get a handle on the state of TV in the market. We wanted to know: How were locals consuming TV content? On what screen? What drives loyalty? And how do viewers perceive value?
We fielded an online survey with current GCI customers, then followed it with in-depth interviews of cord-cutters, cable keepers and satellite customers. Finally, we compared our findings with national consumer insight trends from our partners at CEB Iconoculture around media, content preferences and general consumer behavior.
Our Insight: There are Two Very Different Types of TV Watching
The Hooligan research revealed that there are essentially two common extremes for TV viewers:
- Background noise is just what it sounds like: People turn on the TV when they’re doing other things around the house and want some mild entertainment in the background. For this type of TV viewing people choose content which is known (they likely are re-watching a show or movie), more “PG/PG-13” than “R,” and easy to access.
- Immersive fandom is viewing on a whole different level. Consumers are so engaged with the content that they find ways to follow it long past the traditional airtime. This type of watcher seeks out ways to extend the pleasure they get from the original content by taking the experience past the traditional TV screen to small screens and media formats.
Take the hit show, The Bachelor, for example. When the first seasons aired in 2002, loyal fans were limited to enjoying the weekly, 30-minute airtime and occasional conversations with like-minded friends. Now, #BachelorNation fans watch weekly as the show airs, follow contestants on social media, listen to podcasts recapping the episodes, and even join conversations in reddit communities where tens of thousands of users come to share spoiler alerts, joke, give predictions and commiserate on the latest episode dramas.
This phenomenon can be seen in network content like the Bachelor, premium shows like Game of Thrones, and of course, the original example – football.
So, what does this insight mean for GCI?
While football starts on the big screen, it lives on in mobile and online platforms. That means that GCI can use the football-viewing window to sell not just TV, but to sell unlimited wireless and internet products that make watching sports on TV even better.
The New Campaign: An Updated Offer and Game-Winning Results
We reframed the product offer based on this insight, and shifted from promoting TV to highlighting GCI’s Unlimited Mobile and Internet product. Our campaign told relevant, thematic stories of the football fan’s household and why they need TV.
The media strategy mirrored consumer behavior, and included :15 bookend TV commercials during regular season games, while heavying up on mobile app placements targeted to reach football fans. Streaming video and YouTube pre-roll ads met consumers where they were searching for football clips (following the immersive fandom viewing). Furthermore, radio creative made to sound like a sports-fan podcasts were tailored to reach different types of fans.
The campaign was a hit with viewers. Follow up 1:1 calls revealed customers found it relevant, engaging and personal. Over the campaign window we drove store traffic and mobile and internet subscriber growth.