Tips for Web Programming People Will Actually Watch

One of the TV programs that Reveille has brought to the Web.

The U.S. is filled with couch potatoes. But now, many people are sitting on the couch with tablets, smartphones, laptops, and other devices that they’re using to watch or discuss their favorite programs.

TV networks and program heads are beefing up their online viewing offerings and doing more with social media in order to keep up.

We asked David Anderson, SVP and head of digital at Reveille, three questions via email about this TV viewing transition. Reveille develops online programming and brings television programming to the Web, working with shows like The Tudors, MasterChef, and The Office. We dig in after the jump.

PRNewser: TV viewership is changing. Which audiences are making the shift to the Internet? And how drastic is that shift?

DA: There appears to be two major shifts in TV viewing habits: 1) Viewers are watching shows online through services like Hulu or network and show websites and 2) Viewers are engaging in companion experiences to TV content with “second screens” such as PCs, tablets and smartphones.

Much of the shift is taking place with younger viewers, most likely at the younger end of the 18-to-34-year-old demographic, whose online experiences have been rich with content consumption. The shift is also occurring within older demographics as the adoption of the “second screen” devices has increased and users now realize the potential for high-end content experiences on multiple screens.

Our experience and the general conversation in the marketplace indicates these shifts are real and only likely to increase as access to technology and the speed at which devices are able to download content accelerates.

What are the PR opportunities available?

We have found the most successful marketing and PR opportunities are when we enhance the content experience to the viewer. As digital opportunities expand in both platform and viewing device, new experiences are created for us to reach and interact with our viewers.

Concepts such as check-in services, talent real-time tweeting with programming, and bonus content availability based on viewer interaction have given content creators the opportunity to have a conversation directly with viewers. We now have the ability to gain real-time feedback and deliver enhanced viewing experiences to further engage our audience with our programming. Additionally, when the audience reacts positively to online content, they share it over and over again –- creating a viral conversation that you just can’t do with traditional television programming.

What are some of the characteristics of a successful Web program?

The main characteristic of great Web programming is not unlike great TV programming: Great story and storytelling drives viewership. A great story can be even more important in Web programming since you have only minutes to engage the audience and can’t necessarily rely on big-budget special effects.

Episode length and frequency can have a huge impact on the success of Web programming as well. Shows with strong engagement for the first minute or two can experience significant drop off in the third or fourth minutes of a show.

As creators and producers we need to pay close attention to audience engagement and react, adapting formats to find the right duration and frequency so we give the viewer just enough, but ensure they will come back for more.