Retaining the primetime television audience
Purpose: This paper aims to investigate factors associated with higher or lower television audience retention from one programme aired sequentially after another, referred to as lead-in audience retention. Lead-in is a primary determinant of television programme audience size. Design/methodology/approach: The study models a series of factors linked to lead-in audience retention, such as rating of the second programme, genre match and competitor options. The hypothesised relationships are tested across over 1,000 pairs of programmes aired in the UK and Australia, using multivariate linear regression models. Findings: The study finds the factors consistently related to significantly higher lead-in audience retention are the rating of the second programme in the pair and news genre match in programming. Factors consistently linked to lower audience retention include the rating of the initial programme and the number of competitor options starting at the same time as the second programme. Practical implications: The findings help television networks understand drivers of lead-in audience retention. Knowledge that can be used to inform the design of tailored marketing plans for programmes based on schedule, timing and adjacent programming. Further, the findings help advertisers and media buyers with scheduling television advertising to achieve reach or frequency objectives. Originality/value: No previous studies have comprehensively combined all four factors driving lead-in audience retention into a single model. The testing across multiple markets adds to the robustness of the findings. In particular, the discoveries about the impact of competitor network activities and genre build considerably on past research.