The CW puts social media at the center of its streaming strategy
Still months away from upfronts season, The CW is readying an “ecosystem” pitch to address the fragmenting TV landscape.
Rick Haskins, who was promoted to president of streaming and chief brand officer Wednesday (29 January), said the network uses social media to move viewers between its broadcast and digital properties. This ideally creates a single ecosystem where advertisers can find their audience.
“I think that [advertisers] feel that we do get a lot of impressions from social and appreciate it because that means we understand the audience, and we can engage with the audience,” said Haskins, who leads overall strategy and development for The CW’s streaming properties, and heads branding and marketing for the division. “And if you're an advertiser, the top thing you want to do is engage with your audience.”
The CW's Batwoman runs on broadcast and streams on CW TV
The CW has 1.9 million Instagram followers, 1 million Twitter followers and has started advertising on TikTok. It’s using social media to keep viewers engaged, and it’s pitching that cross-screen engagement to advertisers.
"Ratings don't necessarily need to be the highest if there is a buzz about the show, because you know that there is engagement," said Haskins.
The CW, which is a joint-venture between ViacomCBS and Warner Bros Entertainment, runs two ad-supported streaming services. CW TV houses content that airs on the network’s broadcast channel. CW Seed streams millennial-driven originals and acquired library content.
Media companies that control an array of streaming properties are beginning to realize the value of their ecosystems. For example, ViacomCBS ran the debut episode of Star Trek: Picard on its free service, Pluto TV, to drive sign-ups for its paid service, CBS All Access, where the rest of the series will run.
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Haskins said streaming is an important part of the business for The CW, but still not as important as broadcast. The CW maintains a 24-hour window between airing a show on broadcast and moving it to CW TV.
Haskins said windowing content doesn’t devalue the initial broadcast, but instead divides viewers in a way that makes finding target audiences more effective for advertisers.
The CW doesn’t break out its marketing spend, but Haskins said it’s taken a “sophisticated, data-driven” approach to promoting its services. After all, Netflix spent $879m on marketing last quarter, while The CW earns an estimated $43.6m in revenue annually, according to Crunchbase.
Netflix and The CW’s streaming services aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons, but the increasingly crowded streaming marketplace has media companies fighting for attention.
“It’s absolutely crazy to see what everybody's doing, but you can't get overwhelmed by that,” said Haskins. “You can't get intimidated by that. You need to follow what you've done in the past… and continue to provide to the consumer what they want, when they want and how they want it.”