Remember nighttime TV in the 90’s? You know, Primetime.
Ellen and Drew Carey on Wednesday, Friends and Seinfeld on Thursday, and who could forget X-files on Sunday.
Many over the age of 30 remember sitting down at 8 pm every night, next to their family, watching a string of 2-4 prime time shows.
It was Primetime Baby. The television time slot that every network, producer, and advertiser loved because all eyes were glued to TV screens across America. It got the best TV shows. It had the best, most expensive commercials. It was like the golden era of television.
Primetime might have been coined during the television era, but the golden era of radio had the same consumer pull in its heyday.
Image Source: WMKY
During and after the Great Depression, Mom and dad would come home from work (or looking for work) and flick on the radio dial to listen to the 1 or 2 radio stations to get their news and maybe a little comedy hour.
Up until now, Primetime has been a fixture in the structure of our daily lives for almost a century, but that has all changed now.
How it all changed
Primetime is now a highly individualized time frame, segmented and spread throughout the day. None of us have the same “Primetime”, we are certainly not all watching the same shows and there are too many networks to even count anymore.
Besides the increased availability of on-demand content, there are a few driving factors that have helped to break up Primetime for consumers across the U.S. and beyond.
Changing work/life balance
As a society, we are working differently than we did two decades ago. More and more people are working remotely, which means they are often not on a strict 9-5 work schedule. They might wake up at 9 am and watch their favorite show on Netflix for an hour with coffee while catching up on Instagram and their favorite news blogs. Then they work from 10-3 before going to the gym and listening to some great podcasts. When they get back from the gym at 5, they eat “dinner”. After dinner, they squeeze in another 2-3 hours of work until 9. At 9 they jump on Twitch and play Fortnite with all their friends until about midnight.
Obviously, this sounds like it might be someone younger, but these days, you never know.
The internet has given millions of people the opportunity to work on their passions outside of their “day job”. This means that a lot of people, millennials especially, are getting out of their “9-5” and working on their “7-11”. This group of people isn’t even watching TV in its traditional sense. They might catch a Hulu show once in a while but they are probably consuming content from blogs, social media, and podcasts in passing, or interspersed between moments while they are working.
No matter what your day looks like, it probably doesn’t have a “Primetime” that looks like your parents’ did.
With the democratization of information and entertainment across hundreds of platforms, your “Primetime” is just that–yours.
So Primetime as we knew it is dead. The control has shifted from the networks control, to the consumers, and things have gotten really interesting…
What does these mean for advertisers?
Well, it means their job is getting harder by the minute.
A century ago Advertising was easy—just put an ad in the newspaper and put up a billboard. 70 years ago they could throw in a live radio read. 50 years ago they could knock peoples socks off with a TV commercial, and people WANTED to watch it! 20 years ago banner ads across the new “internet” gave them yet another possible point of impact. Enter social media a decade ago and all hell broke loose…
Now in order to survive a brand has to do 1-of-2 things:
- offer something truly and utterly unique so that people have to find them
- be everywhere your customer is all at the same time
And both are extremely hard, so good luck 🤦🏻♂️
P.S. Read this to learn how to be everywhere at once.