Awards Shows Present Opportunity to Broaden a Series’ Fanbase

Viewership of major award shows isn’t what it once was, especially among younger viewers, but the influence of a nomination on viewership is still strong.

The Emmy Awards will air soon, and new research from Roku — America’s No. 1 TV streaming platform in terms of hours streamed — highlights the potential of nominations to attract audiences who might otherwise have skipped a particular program altogether.

Although some might argue the Emmys are a relic of the linear-dominated television era, they still have an undeniable influence on both first-generation streaming audiences and traditional viewers. Nominations and results matter — offering a validation, of sorts, to viewers who might otherwise pass on the show. A program on the receiving end of either can find new audiences, often outside their initial demographic.

This dynamic presents a big opportunity for marketers. Recent data shows 25% of Roku users say they’ve signed up for a service because it had at least one live event they wanted to watch. As it relates to award nominations, roughly the same number also said they would consider watching a new TV show because it received positive reviews.

“There’s a generational divide when it comes to awards shows,” says Nicole Cooper, senior lead, audience insights, for Roku. “Younger audiences bypassed several shows that appealed to older demographics as they aired but, after they were nominated for an Emmy, they were much more likely to seek them out.”

2022 Acquisition Habits

The 2022 nominations for television’s best programming illustrates how awards help draw new audiences. While new episodes were airing, Roku data showed average weekly search volumes were higher among one of the two demographics – either persons 18-34 or persons 55+ – compared with the wider over-18 audience. But, during the week of Emmy nominations, week-over-week searches by the other demo spiked, sometimes quite noticeably.

Put another way: Roku users are more likely to seek out shows that appeal to their demographic as episodes air, whereas Emmy nominations bring in a broader audience to search.

“Euphoria,” for example, a Gen Z drama that became a social sensation, saw a 35% increase in searches among older audiences after receiving 16 nominations. Similarly, searches for “Atlanta” and “The Ms. Pat Show” (both programs with high persons 18-34 demand) saw increases of 25% and 51%, respectively, in viewers over the age of 55 after their nominations.

The formula works inversely as well. Shows that initially appeal to older streamers see a significant spike among the 18-24 set as they garner Emmy nominations.

“Hacks,” initially most popular amongst users 55+, saw a 62% increase in searches among younger audiences. “Station Eleven” roared up 64%. And “Impeachment: American Crime Story” saw a jaw-dropping 85% search volume increase among 18- to 24-year-olds after its five nominations.

How Marketers Can Leverage Award Shows Year Round

For marketers, the immediate post-nomination period is a chance to engage with age groups beyond their target audience, which can result in higher subscription numbers. It also presents a golden opportunity to cross-promote other shows that could appeal to viewers beyond the target audience – be they young or more mature.

And when it comes to capturing a younger demographic, late night is the optimal time. Roku data finds that Gen Z viewers are more reachable in the late evening, with 53% streaming during a weekday overnight daypart. That’s an optimal time to promote Emmy-nominated content.

By using this surge in search interest to attract a wide array of subscribers throughout the year, streaming services can broaden their fanbase, increase viewer engagement and, perhaps most importantly, boost the odds that a series will be an even bigger success in a subsequent season.

“Similar to the technology adoption lifecycle, a show has ‘innovators’ who are quick to watch when it premieres, and ‘laggards,’ who need widespread endorsement to be convinced to tune in,” says Jon Merkin, Roku’s senior manager, media and entertainment analytics. “There’s an opportunity to capture both types of viewers, albeit at different moments. Marketers that lean into both will maximize their audience.”

July’s Top 10 Searches on Roku

The looming end of summer saw families spending some quality time together before kids headed back to school, with six of the month’s Top 10 searches being targeted squarely at younger audiences.

Once the kids were in bed, though, parents treated themselves to more mature programming – from spy dramas to science fiction to modern day Westerns. 

1. “The Old Man” 
2. “The Bad Guys” 
3. “Minions: The Rise of Gru”  
4. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” 
5. “Alone” 
6. “SpongeBob SquarePants” 
7. “Yellowstone” 
8. “Jurassic World Dominion” 
9. “Spider Man: No Way Home” 
10. “Paw Patrol”

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