Anatomy of a Hit in the Digital Age

CBS Chief Research Officer David Poltrack has a great new presentation entitled “The Anatomy of a Hit in the Digital Age.” Here are his key points:

1)      Today’s TV Hits Are Multiplatform Success Stories. For example, Elementary, which premiered on CBS last Fall, was not widely lauded by the entertainment press as a “hit.” However, most measurements the press was using were incomplete. To gauge the success of a new show today, one must factor in DVR playback, VOD playback, and online streaming. When all those additional views are added into the picture, Elementary becomes #8 in the top ten broadcast series premieres over the past 10 years.

domethumbnail2)      Network TV Can Find Summer Success. In the past, it was a foregone conclusion that cable TV dominated summer viewership. But CBS attempted a new strategy this year rolling out Under the Dome, a limited-episode drama under the creative auspices of Steven King, Steven Spielberg and the producers of Lost. It became a summer sensation attracting more viewers than the top four new cable series combined.

3)      Social Media Buzz is Great – But Most TV Conversation Happens Face to Face.  While social media buzz is hot trend right now, the vast majority (80%) of all conversations about TV happen when people talk to each other face-to-face. Those who use social media to talk about TV are only a small sliver of the population (3%) and their behaviors and interest levels are not representative of average viewers.

4)      The 18-49 Demo is Declining and Less Valuable Than it Once Was.  The 18 to 49 demographic is a smaller percentage of the overall population than it was 10 years ago and it continues to shrink. Dave posed the question: “Why would advertisers want to continue to sell and focus their selling on a shrinking part of the total population?” He also noted that many 18 to 49 live at home with their parents and don’t have the spending ability that advertisers desire.

Lots of brainfood for TV critics and followers alike from the smartest research mind in our industry.


Last week I had the amazing opportunity to address the Twitter Global Conference in San Francisco … 600 sales, marketing and department heads … and to appear with my daughter Callie Schweitzer, the Director of Marketing and Communications at Vox Media.  They thought it would be novel to have a first time father/daughter session. Callie was repping digital media, I was big TV media.  We were asked to talk about social media and TV … and give a brief intro about our businesses.  Then we were interviewed by Fred Graver, Twitter’s Head of TV.

They dubbed the session: #SCHWEITZNADO


Fred Graver, Callie and me on stage at the  Twitter Global Conference.

Here’s a digest of what I said:

Like Twitter we also live in the moment. — The moment of speaking to the biggest audiences.

What were first thought to be threats to our business turned out to help us. TV didn’t kill radio. It allowed it to flourish in categories:  News. Rock. Oldies. Pop. VCR’s and DVR’s didn’t kill TV.  They allowed people to watch MORE. Cable and Satellite didn’t kill networks … they opened up more outlets for distribution.

Today mobile media and online streaming allow people to see TV on the go, stay engaged, catch up and talk about their favorite shows. All of this adds up to people spending more hours watching our programming.  Good news for TV!


With Callie and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo