We’re not much more than a month away from the time when the first new fall TV shows are set to premiere on the broadcast networks. The promos have been running for months, and the entertainment magazines are already filled with stories about the “hot” new TV shows.
But if you want to know more about what’s premiering in September, you’re likely to be disappointed if you head off to the main web sites for the five broadcast networks. Some of the sites barely mention the new fall lineup. And those that do aren’t exactly filling their sites with useful information. If repurposing press releases and actor bios won awards, some of these web sites will be qualifying for gold medals.
ABC’s web site is one of the few that actually promotes the new fall lineup. A tease for the new drama Charlie’s Angels is in the rotating media window at the top of the home page. From what I can tell, the site typically devotes one of the six spots in the window to a new fall show. There is also a small “new shows” link on the top navigation bar. You can also find the show pages for the individual new shows if you click the larger “shows” link at the top of the page.
But the individual show pages are close to useless. The show page for the new drama Once Upon A Time is typical of what you’ll find on ABC.com. A copy-and-pasted version of the show description, along with a short video preview (which annoyingly autoplays as soon as you enter the page).
The page also links to four posts at the bottom of the page. One promises the chance to see a single script line from the pilot. A “New Series” post which turns out to be the same show info you see on the main show page. A link to the show’s twitter feed and a link to *one* picture from the pilot.
These barebones pages are even more annoying when you realize that each page you visit autoplays a commercial in the video player located on the right hand side of the pages. As a way to push up the video numbers. it might be a good idea. But it also serves as a pretty effective way to punish visitors.
The CBS site is very video-heavy. In fact, I couldn’t find a single story link of the home page that didn’t go directly to a page with a video window. Which is fine, except that some information is much easier to share in a non-video format.
The only mention of the new fall shows (other than the “show” link at the top of the page) is at the very bottom, under a section entitled “Explore CBS.com.” There are some “preview” links to the new shows, but most of them lead to pages that include nothing but a large autoplaying video window and a sparse couple paragraphs of text about the show at the bottom of the page. You won’t even find any of the typically lazy links to actor bios or photo galleries. These are also the same pages that you’ll visit if you click the individual show names on the “shows” link at the top of any page on the web site.
As a businessman, I understand how important video is to the bottom line of a web site. But to decide that 90% of the information you offer viewers about your new fall shows will be video-driven just seems lazy and short-sighted. Especially when the video you’re offering is neither special nor especially enlightening.
The CW’s main web site suffers from not being located at the more logical TheCW.com (a domain which seems to be owned by a domain speculator.
In it favor, the home page has a prominent spot at the top promoting the new fall shows. Although some of that might be as much a reflection of the network’s rerun-heavy summer programming as it is a vote in favor of the new fall schedule.
The individual show pages for the new shows do include a bit more “meat” than most of the rival networks. There are multiple videos posted for each show, as well as a few pictures and the typical show info pulled from the press release.
But on the downside, all of the info is placed in this media window that refreshes everytime you click something. So if you’re on a slower speed connection, you’re probably going to be frustrated. The other thing that strikes me about the site is that despite the younger demographic base of the network, there isn’t anything unexpected here. Sure, it has all the expected info, but there are a lot of items that could be included if someone had used a bit of imagination. When you have a younger audience, it seems a shame not to take advantage of it.
Fox’s main web site probably does the best job of promoting their new fall TV shows. Although to be honest, “best” is setting the bar pretty low.
The new shows are promoted on the home page in a section entitled “So Brand New.” Each link leads to a show page with the standard show description and cast info. As well as some video and a photo gallery. The pages don’t offer anything special, but at least they’re laid out effectively and include the basic information a viewer might be looking for.
It is interesting to me that while the network is sending out all sorts of videos for other web sites to post (we generally a few every day), none of those clips are included on the individual new show pages. Each show page has one video (generally a preview) in a medium-sized window at the top. For instance, we’ve probably received at least a half dozen clips for the new animated series Allen Gregory (including clips from Comic-Con). But none seem to have made it to the show pages.
Given the fact that NBC has struggled to launch new shows in recent years, it’s somewhat surprising that the main web site for the network offers up such scant support for the new fall lineup. Visitors to the site today would find lots of mentions of tonight’s comedy lineup, as well as pitched for everything from an official Community mug to streaming video of “classic” shows such as Kings and My Own Worst Enemy.
The only even marginal mention of the new fall shows is a link to a photo gallery from Comic-Con that highlights Playgirls and mentions that the new show The Playboy Club premieres in the fall. That lack of attention is frustrating, because NBC.com’s treatment of their new fall shows is the best of any broadcast network.
This show page for the new drama Grimm is a good example of what to expect. Multiple video clips and photos, as well as the typical press-release show and actor info.
If the site has a flaw, it’s the same one found on all the rival sites. Given the importance of the online audience, I’m struck by lack of anything new or unexpected. While I appreciate the network efforts to add Twitter and Facebook to the promotional efforts, those social media offerings should support, not replace, more traditional types of promotion.
What I would like to see is a network hire people to be the social media face of each show. Have them post to the multiple social media web sites, as well as blog on the main network site. Instead, these super fans tend to go out and start their own site devoted to the show. Which is fine, expect that those rival efforts pull away a lot of attention and pageviews from the network efforts.