Elections offer stations a chance to capture new audiences

“You can’t see beyond the choices you haven’t made,” said the Oracle in The Matrix Trilogy. This is what our entire nation was grappling with as we painstakingly waited for the announcement of the general elections results.

As we did so, we were inseparably glued to every broadcasting and connected device in our vicinity. Even when IEBC’s Chiloba told us that he’d give us an update in the morning, we stayed vigilant through the night as if he would change his mind and slip in a surprise news conference as we dosed.

The winner in all this, apart from the triumphant candidates, were the TV stations because this was possibly the highest ever combined viewership ratings achieved in our history. So what do you do, as a media owner, when an opportunity like this presents itself?

You’ve got to make it count. For 3 or more days you have a captive audience like never before, who have stocked up on food, fuel and data bundles to last a month. They’re going nowhere; not to work, not to the gym, certainly not visiting, and I bet they’re not playing Chess or Monopoly to fill the time.

IEBC set this election date way back on the 10th of December 2015, giving you ample time to prepare and put in place a plan that would ensure that this captive audience would chose your channel over and above the rest.

First of all, you’ve got to give them what they’ve come for — the elections coverage. They want instant news and updates, in-depth analysis and clever commentary, within a setting that is visually pleasing in both space and talent.

Before the elections where Tony Blair emerged as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Channel 4 Television spent months planning their elections coverage broadcast with investments in new studios and pioneering high-tech space design that has become commonplace on our screens today.

Not only did they push the envelope with regards to the comprehensive elections reporting but they ensured that the scheduled segments would have the top analysts and newsmakers that people wanted to listen to, and were thus able to grow their share of eyeballs during that time.

Secondly you want to use this ‘media event’ to retain those viewers that switch from your competitors to watch your broadcast. This one will stretch your imagination and indeed your budget. Channel 4 used the opportunity to refresh their brand and reposition it as modern and trendy, with the ability to connect with a new generation of viewers.

They introduced a new logo and station livery, with differentiated studio formats and a distinctive programming schedule that had been well researched in order to satisfy a wider audience. In a way, the national feeling of a new dawn was mirrored by the refreshed station identity, cementing the aspirations and dreams of the nation.

With enough time you can try out different studio sets which are tested through various camera views in order to perfect the final effect. Run through the various visual technology and train the studio anchors for a seamlessly and orchestrated drama as they patch in field reporters across the country and update the election maps on the high-tech screens.

As you unveil history minute by minute think of the words of Victor Hugo who says “The ode lives upon the ideal, the epic upon the grandiose, the drama upon the real.”



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