Hanging On to a Lead-In Audience

By Graeme Newell 

The promo slots at the end of primetime are unquestionably some of the most important moments of the entire news day. The viewer is just minutes away from the newscast. If you can get this huge audience to hang around just a few more minutes they can exponentially increase your news numbers.

Unfortunately, the network does not make it easy to hold this audience through this break from hell. Although it varies from network to network, the general structure looks like this:

1) End of network prime show
2) “Stay tuned for scenes from next week’s show”
3) Local Station end-of-prime tease
4) Commercials
5) Next week’s show preview
6) Commercials
7) Network Promos
8) Credit Squeezed Network Promos
9) Local Station Credit Squeeze Tease
10) Local Break (optional)
11) Start of the newscast


For local newscasts the best opportunities come with item three and item nine. It is important to realized that these two teases serve very different purposes.

The local station end-of-prime tease is for viewers who just watched the prime show. It comes seconds after the network show ends and is one your best shots to hold an audience. The goal here is to showcase all the very best sound and video in your entire cast. This one tease should contain the most magical moments of your entire show.

Most stations fall far short of the goal. Typically, this tease contains a talking-head anchor describing the news, instead of showing me the great stuff that’s coming up. The tacit message here – “I really couldn’t be bothered to actually show you video or sound from the best stories in my newscast, so you’ll just have to trust me…it’s great.”

Some of the time, the problem is “video hoarding.” Producers hold back their best sound and video. They don’t want to “give it away” in the open. Reinforce with your team that great video belongs in BOTH the open and the story. It is perfectly okay to use these precious resources multiple times.

In the bustle of producing a show, this all-important open tease is often an afterthought rather than a priority. It simply tells the news rather than enticing viewers into the show. This tease hangs on to prime viewers. Doing a good job on this tease will drastically improve your news numbers. If you must neglect something, choose any other part of the show. Better to neglect something later in your show than to neglect this critical tune-out point. Every component in this segment should have incredible power and a focus that holds on to viewers. Craft the pre-show with the same attention to detail used in the top story. It’s that important.

So judge your end of prime tease by the amount of talking head and VO. The goal – all fantastic sound and video that defies even the sleepiest viewer to turn away. No talking heads.

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602commu nications.com.