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05/13

The “Eventizing” of Radio

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Here’s what radio can learn from Fox TV, courtesy of The Wrap:

Fox’s emphasis next season is on “eventizing,” entertainment chief Kevin Reilly said at the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers Monday….“American Idol,” like sports shows, benefitted from fans who felt they had to watch for fear of missing a big television event. Now Reilly is trying to turn even regular scripted shows into big events.

In Fox’s case, that means things like a “Simpsons”/ “Family Guy” crossover episode, Evil Knievel-style stunts, and the musical event “Grease Live,” among other concepts.

Why bother with events? What’s wrong with plain old shows?

It’s the “plain old” part, says Reilly:

We’re eventizing our entertainment slate. The goal is to give viewers ‘an urgency to view.’

“An urgency to view.” Or what used to be called “must-see TV.”

Consider what’s going on here: A tough competitive environment with tons of choices across many platforms. Audiences splintered and bombarded by choices, including the option to take their entertainment “on demand” whenever and wherever they want.

Does that sound familiar, radio?

Once upon a time HBO peered across its landscape of feature films that had recently been in the theater and would soon air on broadcast TV for free. “We’re just a distribution channel,” they concluded. “We are a fast-closing window between theaters and broadcast.” So what did they do? They greenlit The Sopranos, the first-ever original series on HBO. Something they owned and controlled. Something good enough to shape into an event.

In radio when we think of “eventizing” we too often think of “benchmarks.” But benchmarks are simply audio bookmarks. There is no promise of “event” there. It’s not “must hear,” it’s more like “expect to hear at 7:50 every day.”

Every quarter, every month, every week, perhaps every day there should be something “eventized” on your radio brand – something that creates an “urgency to listen.”

Take a sheet of paper. Draw lines to represent the days of the week. And in each column, list that day’s “event” that creates an “urgency to listen.”

You’ll quickly find that “eventizing” doesn’t happen by itself. It only happens because you and your staff will “urgency” into being.

And if listening to your brand isn’t “urgent,” by definition it becomes optional.

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  • Andrew Curran DMR/Interactive

    Great post. Benchmarks can be the building blocks of “must hear radio” but how do you keep them fresh and urgent day after day? Once upon a time, David Letterman’s Top 10 List was a nightly event, now it’s just wallpaper.

  • Shane Elsberry

    Nice article, Mark, and while I agree with your point, your assertion that “The Sopranos” was HBO’s first-ever original series is VERY erroneous. HBO had had a couple of dozen original shows before that, including “Sex and the City”, which premiered about a year before “The Sopranos” and was a game changer for them on the same level.

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