Respecting Viewers’ Time Is Key To Engagement, Says Fox Networks President

by Devon Thomas  |  11.10.2016

Consumer engagement is the biggest change in connecting content with consumers, says Fox Networks President Randy Freer during his keynote conversation at Variety’s Big Data Summit at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills on Thursday, November 10.

The Fox executive used his keynote conversation with Variety Managing Editor Cynthia Littleton to touch on smarter ways networks can look at data, measurement and currency in a changing media landscape.

“The currency in television used to be Nielsen, but now that has changed with the disruption of data,” Freer says.

Before, Freer says, “you put your show out, you do your sporting events, and you got ratings and moved on to the next thing.” 

Now, Freer realizes the most effective strategy for engagement is about “building an emotional relationship” with the consumer, asking consumers questions and letting consumers test things.

“Ultimately, we’re all out here competing for attention,” Freer says, “whether it’s on the small screen or the large screen.”

Freer showed a series of slides that drove home his points about advertising currency. In one slide, he talked about the power of TV advertising, saying that it would take “260 years to get 2.5 billion minutes of commercial viewing for World Series game five.” 

Another slide showed the newest ways Fox Networks engaged its audiences, through tablets, smartphones, laptops and streaming to gauge behavior through platforms such as Fox Now, FX Now, Nat Geo TV and Fox Sports Go.

In terms of ad-free versus ad-supported product, Freer says “in every metric, the ad-free model is the more engaged model.” 

Finding ways to give viewers back their time, created engagement and consumers “don’t have to sit through commercial interruption to engage with the TV show.”

Freer believes bundling and packaging content ultimately works best for consumer engagement and believes in the direct-to-consumer, “TV everywhere” model. Also, he noted that many modern brands have started content studios, which reduces advertising load and commercial interruption.

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