Some shows are set to be a hit. Heavy promotion, high profile names, or strong ties to already successful franchises make it easy for familiar titles to find and engage an audience before an official release. But for every “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” or “Bel-Air” song, there’s a sleepy song like “Abbott Elementary,” “The Bear,” or “The Rehearsal.”
A “sleeper hit” can be defined as the kind of show that surprises us – programs that grow in popularity over time and can eventually outperform pre-determined results. And as broadcasting becomes a larger part of the television landscape, sleepy viewers can build an audience and rise to the top despite unfavorable beginnings.
New research from Roku — America’s number one broadcast TV platform by airtime — finds that some states have been a leader in sleeper hits. To test the impact of these shows, Roku looked at seven sleepy hits, including “Our Flag Means Death,” “P-Valley,” “Severance,” and 10 predictable crashes, such as “And Just Like That” and “Dexter: New Blood.” What the company found was surprising: the initial viewers of the titles that would become successful were not based in major entertainment centers like New York or California, as one might expect.
In Massachusetts, for example, households were 67% more likely to search for an address during its week of release than households across the country collectively. Roku users in Oregon were 57% more likely to search during the first week, while Illinois were 54% more likely to search. Oddly enough, states in the South were the least likely to detect a future strike. Users in Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi were 30-40% less likely to find a sleeper during its launch week.
As for estimated smashes, the largest indicators of early success were seen in Western countries. Users in Washington households were 32% more likely to search for an “obvious” result; Nevadan was 28% more likely. Californians are 24% more likely.
Takeaway? While successful hits may attract a larger audience (and more demand) at launch, broadcasting allows audiences to grow steadily over time. And just because a show fails to gain instant traction in large metropolitan areas when it is first shown does not mean it is destined to be a failure. Roku research data shows that major cities like New York and Los Angeles are eventually catching up with those in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Illinois; It only takes a few weeks. Due to their stimulating effect on the audience, broadcasting services can help dormant shows replace those that have a greater share of the marketing spotlight.
“This proves valuable in marketing a title long after it debuts,” says Julia Mandaville, SVOD vertical specialist at Roku. Amplifying mid-season episodes as the story develops and eventually progresses can help attract widespread demand.
For marketing executives in particular, Roku Search data is a clear signal to continue promoting an offer regardless of how it initially performs.
“Our findings suggest that it’s never too late to promote or be interested in an offer,” says Julie McBride, Roku’s Senior Director of Advertising Research. “In fact, 78% of Roku users say that if they miss the first and second episodes of a show, they won’t feel like it’s too late to catch up. Marketers can use these insights to engage users after the first show who are likely to be interested in the title but haven’t seen it yet.” .
Destroy the sleeping crowd
If a show is centered around a particular profession, its marketing can focus on lasers. The size of streaming platforms helps connect users to stories that may reflect their own experiences at work.
For example, families with teachers and educators were 154% more likely to search for Abbott Elementary in the first viewing week. Likewise, people working in real estate were 124% more likely to search for an ‘OC sale’; Surveyors chose “1883” and psychologists preferred programs like “Severance.”
Marketers can target niche audiences by identifying people who are over-indexing title searches early on or during the pre-release period, making promotions more effective.
Ethnicity can also play an important role. Native American families were 1112% more likely to search for “Reservation Dogs” in the week the premiere took place. Black households were 319% more likely to search for “P-Valley,” with smaller but noticeable patterns for Abbott Elementary and Bel-Air.
“Stories featuring specific professions or races are likely to be wanted early on by viewers who identify directly with the content and characters,” explains Nicole Cooper, audience and streaming stats lead at Roku. “Marketers should consider these details when promoting titles to drive early adoption. Roku Search data can also tell us what content is popular today and what will be popular tomorrow. By looking at this type of data, we can determine where trends start from, as well as how the data is used To reach the niche audiences that drive the show’s success.”
The data says one thing: Hollywood’s tastemakers may not be who we think they are or traditionally were. By interpreting the affinity of content and behavioral data, marketers can anticipate who their offer will attract best and use this information to gradually — and steadily — gain viewers long after the premiere.
Top 10 September Searches on Roku
With “Top Gun: Maverick” dominating the box office this summer, it’s no wonder the blockbuster continues to dominate searches in September. However, viewers were apparently excited for the start of a spooky season as well, with three Halloween-themed movies making it into the top 10 searches. Fear not too much if that number increases next month – pun intended.
1. “Top Gun: Maverick”
2. “Minions: The Rise of Gru”
3. “Black Phone”
5. “Jurassic World Sovereignty”
10. “Top Gun”
To learn more about how marketers energize these ideas, read on over here.