Fighting Contests with Contests, Giveaways with Giveaways and Oh Yah, We Got Some Content Too.

In the dog-eat-dog, cut-throat world of TV news business, it’s important to get ratings.  Ratings are the lifeblood of TV (and radio).  One does what one must do to get the good numbers.  I’ve said it before and will say it again.  If a TV station thought it could boost ratings over the competition by putting a piano-playing chicken on the air 24-hours a day, not only would we see a 24-hour piano playing chicken network, we’d have consultants beating down the door with advice on how to make chickens stand out from the competition in the market.  I can hear them now: “No, you need to have a couple of really big birds and make them look glamorous.  Maybe have one of them share with us about what it’s like to lay an egg or go through a deep fryer.”

So, in addition to having spicy sweep pieces during ratings periods, some have come up with clever ways to entice viewers to tune in.  WREG started the trend about ten years ago by giving away some cars.  I remember having to sort through the thousands of post cards that were sent in and that took up a huge area of the studio floor. Each of the three groups of post cards would have filled the bed of a large pick-up truck.  WMC used the giveaways and contests angle last May, coupled with the sweeps pieces and promotions and they walked away as big winners in the ratings war.  I’m not saying that was the only reason they won.  I’m just saying it didn’t hurt.  Perhaps having been caught off guard last spring, WREG was ready this fall and when sweeps started, the station DOTR was ready to stand toe-to-toe contest-wise with the station OOU (over on Union) .  The really big ticket seemed to be just that:tickets, specifically tickets to see Hannah Montana.  The preparation worked for WREG.  They almost swept the sweeps, at least according to the numbers I’ve seen in the local newspaper and what were shared with me.  They won everywhere except for 6pm.  Now expect the bar to be raised.  I can’t wait to see what gets rolled out for the February book from everyone.  I did find it interesting that WHBQ Fox 13 was a close second at 5am.  I did not have any numbers for WPTY so I can’t do any comparison on how they fared in all of this so I won’t bother posting any numbers.

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3 Comments on “Fighting Contests with Contests, Giveaways with Giveaways and Oh Yah, We Got Some Content Too.”

  1. ned Says:

    I hate it because I think we (3) would have won without the contests. I will say we were first with Hannah but 5 did a nice job of copying. The 6 PM was a tie in the end. However, had we not thrown out the day before Thanksgiving, we would have won.

  2. unionavealum Says:

    It’s been many years since I was inTV working on Union Ave, but still follow it closely. The Nov. book can’t be a good thing. This station was once untouchable and now it’s losing every newscast, except 6p which is tied? Wow. Keep in mind too that WMC upped the ante with $500 giveaway not just at 10p, but also 5 & 6p..and still ended up the loser at 5 and nearly lost 6p. And now they’ve lost 6 of the past 8 books at 10p? Friends still at Ch. 5 say Raycom has bought a new satellite truck, newsroom, news set, control room etc. etc. and is upset it has declining numbers to show for its investment. With all the hefty salaries at WMC, maybe the GM can shed some light on what’s next? nbc programming must be a factor, but surely there are still many nbc locals winning their newscasts because of strong following. Sounds like preferences are changing.

  3. Newzgrl Says:

    I work for WMC. I was appalled and disgusted by our giveaways. I complained we promoted giving away money instead of the content in our newscasts. I’m bitter now that the contests are over, because the newscast numbers are higher. I believe it is because we are promoting news content again. I sent my concerns to the GM. We will see what happens in February.


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