Behind the Scenes: In-Game Promos

tonightoncbsEver wonder what a drop in is? Then drop everything and watch this new video from NFL Filmsspecifically the portion that starts at the 3:14 mark.

It’s a must-see for anyone who wants to know more about the proud tradition of On Air Promotion within CBS Sports broadcasts.

The video highlights the genius of the late Pat Summerall, whose on air announcements during NFL Football on CBS “resonated almost as much as the football history unfolding on the field.”

Today, in-game promos continue to deliver invaluable impressions thanks to their unique proximity to live sports action. And the sportscasters who “drop in” these 10-second messages take them as seriously as the marketing directors who craft them.

Here I am in the booth with Jim Nantz at the Patriots/Steelers game on November 3, 2013 reviewing the blue cards containing the all-important copy football fans would be anticipating throughout the game to come. “These are the most important things you’ll read today!” I remind him.

Here I am in the booth with Jim Nantz at the Patriots/Steelers game on November 3, 2013 reviewing the blue cards containing the all-important copy football fans would be anticipating throughout the game to come. “These are the most important things you’ll read today!” I remind him.

In-game promos remain as important as ever to the success of our primetime shows. As we look forward to those we will hear this coming Sunday, take an enlightening look back at how they evolved and hear some interesting insights from those who remember them best.

Click here and skip to 3:14

The New Math

The times they are a changing.’ Consumers have more control over how and when they watch TV than ever before. The result is big shifts in behavior and how the business of television operates and measures itself.


A new report from CBS Research revealed that the premiere week audiences for CBS megahits NCIS and THE BIG BANG THEORY each grew over 30% to 26 million viewers once 30 days of multiplatform viewing (DVR, VOD and online streaming) was factored in. By similar measures, freshman series THE CRAZY ONES grew over 50% to 23.53 million viewers and MOM grew 72% to 13.77 million viewers.
These massive viewership lifts show why the industry needs to look at the new season differently. Multiplatform viewing means more ways for more people to discover and engage with our content over longer periods of time. For marketers, it means adapting our launch strategies and extending our promotional pushes to account for delayed viewing. Live ratings results show only part of the overall viewership picture. Yet, no matter how you tabulate it, CBS shows continue to be among the most watched shows across all platforms.

Behind the Broadcast: CBS Sports Director Suzanne Smith

She wouldn’t call herself a “pioneer,” but CBS Sports Director Suzanne  Smith definitely knows who she is.  Whether directing an NFL game, US Open Tennis or NCAA Basketball, Suzanne is at the top of her game.  I am so proud to have seen her grow at CBS Sports from a production assistant to one of our business’ top professionals.  Suzanne is skilled and talented, and warm and generous.

suzanne smith and gs.jpegI dropped by her production truck at last weekend’s Patriots vs. Jets game at Met Life Stadium, where we caught up on recent events.  I found her in the “camera meeting” where she was talking with her camera crew, forecasting what the game could be like and the key players to cover. The broadcast was flawless, exciting and  even went to overtime. It’s easy to see why I’m such a big fan.

She recently gained some notoriety in this Sports Illustrated profile. Please check it out!

What’s new in home tech?

I try to stay current on the latest in home entertainment technology. This helps me and my team to understand how our audiences will view and discover their television content.  With that in mind, I visited the annual CEDIA conference — Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association.

These are the folks who design and install home theaters, media rooms, whole house audio and video and home automation.  This year’s expo floor was filled with plenty of big TV’s, digital projectors and screens, comfy theatre seats, home networking and connected devices, remote controls, amps, speakers and automation devices.

A wild TV set up with speakers at the CEDIA Expo.

A wild TV set up with speakers at the CEDIA Expo.

Everyone had an “app” for just about anything.  The biggest change from years past was in the amount of horizontal growth in devices like locks, automatic shades and curtains, energy monitors and lighting and climate tools.  More vendors offering more choices and each with their own operating system — app based — rather than vertically integrated systems like Crestron or Savant or Control 4 where you buy the whole ecosystem from them.

homeseer-e1380725554629-300x225As always I used this as a great opportunity to catch up with my friends from HomeSeer Technologies.  Rich, Mark, Rick and Jon were in full force. HomeSeer is a terrific home automation product  — it’s flexible, easy to use and highly expandable. I have used mine for over a decade — always growing, improving, and learning.  As I say, I don’t fish and I don’t play golf, so my leisure time pursuits are working with home automation and watching sports on TV.  HomeSeer continues to give me a lot to play with.





With the new TV season underway, now’s a good time to reflect on some of the things we’ve learned about the vast changes in viewer behavior and how people find out about what’s on.

TV viewing has evolved in three central ways:

1.  DISCOVERY has evolved. Viewers are embracing new TV discovery methods. People are very active in how they seek, schedule and sample content. Viewing behavior is shifting from simply “watching television” to actively “managing content.”

2.  The SAMPLING PERIOD has evolved. Viewers are increasingly taking a longer time to sample new series. They are wary of investing time because they worry new shows will be cancelled. Plus they have a backlog of existing TV shows they want to see and catch up on.

3.  PLATFORMS have evolved. People prefer to watch shows live on best available platform. Appointment TV is an established habit. Social media helps the live viewing experience … people want to be in “the know” and avoid “social spoilers.” But when they can’t see what they want live, viewers are ready, willing and able to watch in other ways.

The evolution of TV MARKETING  

As an industry we’re adapting to the new show discovery process, the extended sampling period, and evolved platforms that let people watch shows wherever, whenever, however.  It’s a marked change for those of us who were accustomed to measuring success by one simple metric – the overnight ratings.

Now we’ve got to have patience and let the full story – including the results from time shifted viewing – play out. Those results are not available for many days after broadcast.   For example, the series premiere of THE CRAZY ONES averaged 15.5 million Live+Same Day television viewers, but with Live +3-Day results (those who watch within 3 days of the original broadcast either live or on their DVRs), its audience jumped to nearly 19 million. And when VOD and online streaming are added in, we estimate that figure will grow to over 24 million, which is a 55% increase overall.

What hasn’t changed? The fact that TV marketing is a game of contact and impact. You have to make contact with viewers and make impact with attention-getting ad creative. And to make effective ads, you first need great content. Great content is its own best selling point.

In this crazy world where people’s narrow interests are well fed by the Internet, the role of network TV is to find the larger, universal themes, characters and stories that connect us all. For us, the bigger the better. Big = good … and when it comes to promotion, enough is never enough! There is no such thing as too much marketing. Just when you are sick of hearing the same message repeated over and over, it’s JUST starting to break through to the audience.