TV fans are getting used to binging their shows, watching them ad-free, and getting them on demand — so to keep up with streaming services, traditional networks are finding new ways to get fans excited for content.
As Ad Week reports, several networks are trying a new tack in order to get viewers hooked on their new shows: ad-free premieres. WGN America, TBS and Syfy have all tried different variations on the simple idea that if you can get viewers hooked early, they’ll keep coming back for new episodes.
TV is an ad-supported medium, of course, and including commercials within episodes how most make their money. But with several new shows, networks have tried giving viewers special ad-free events to create buzz for new shows and make it easier for viewers to get into them. Syfy launched an ad-free premiere of its new series The Magicians in December, which was the first since 2012, while TBS allowed viewers to watch the entire season of its new show Angie Tribecain one big 25-hour binge. WGN kept ads out of the premieres of two of new dramas, Outsiders and Underground, and saw success for both.
Networks are finding that ad-free shows helps them give the same experience that streaming services offer, and it allows them to get shows in front of viewers with less impediment right out of the gate. The idea is that viewers get something of a treat, and come to really love a show early on, so they’ll stick around, and it helps cut through all the clutter of the huge number of shows on TV. Networks and advertisers are recognizing the value of letting viewers first enjoy great content with no interruptions; they’re betting that a show will be successful over time, rather than trying to get a quicker return on a single episode.
While streaming online and network TV are fundamentally different experiences, with different strengths and weaknesses, it does seem clear that networks are finding there’s a lot to learn from the different ways through which to deliver great shows to people. The battle between streaming and traditional TV is causing both media to evolve in some creative, exciting ways — and premieres with fewer ads are just one.