Identifying A Loyal Television Audience

A client in the television industry was interested in increasing viewer loyalty. As in other industries, television networks derive a large share of audience ratings from a small share of viewers. One strategy for increasing ratings is to encourage audience members who watch infrequently or for short periods of time to increase their overall viewing hours. The leverage points for increasing loyalty in this industry include programming, brand positioning and advertising. These decisions can be made from audience surveys provided there is a valid way of profiling viewers by degree of loyalty.

Quantifying loyalty in audience surveys can be challenging, posing many of the same problems encountered in other industries. For example, TV viewers have difficulty stating their behaviors accurately and their behaviors can fluctuate. And, it is possible to confuse people who watch large amounts of television as truly loyal (when they actually divide their viewing across brands).

To address this issue for its client, Rockbridge studied viewer behaviors in detail, starting with focus groups that examined loyalty drivers and viewing patterns. Next, Rockbridge designed a series of primarily behavioral measures which it included in an audience telephone survey. Relying on multivariate statistical techniques such as factor analysis, Rockbridge developed a loyalty index. The index captured profound aspects of loyalty, going beyond viewing levels to look at areas such as information search, preference, satisfaction, the way programs are watched, when they are watched, and viewing share.

The resulting report from this study helped guide strategic decision making by identifying areas that appealed to “potential” loyal viewers but did not discourage “core” viewers. A select set of program types and qualities showed this kind of universal appeal. The results were used to guide program decisions and to identify topics to stress in marketing communications.

Going forward, the “loyalty index” developed by Rockbridge was condensed to a scale with a small set of questions. Rockbridge provided an algorithm for creating an index, allowing the client to study the issue in a consistent fashion across markets.

An index approach has relevance in most service, information and entertainment industries. Rockbridge has applied the same general approach in sectors such as e-commerce, financial services and telecommunications.