“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
The first American iteration of the Eurovision Song Contest is in full swing and the ratings haven’t made this the surefire hit it could have been, but hope is not lost! Here are some ways the show can come back stronger than ever.
- Release the music earlier. The idea that “keeping a mystery around the songs,” would generate buzz seems to have failed. Eurovision has proved that releasing the songs prior (sometimes months in advance) doesn’t lessen the impact of seeing the performances live on the stage. Allowing the participants to release and promote their songs and then debut the live performances on the ASC stage could yield much needed buzz.
- 4 weeks TOPS. The length of the competition is not helping to build the momentum. With inconsistent ratings and the show being the 4th pick of viewers week-after-week, the competition proved hard to beat. Eurovision is one week total made up of 3 episodes. Why with the American brand was it proposed to be extended from this proven formula? This is a new show— short and sweet might have been the more strategic first move.
- Summertime instead of Spring. Eurovision is a show for the entire family and the American Song Contest had a model it could have followed by premiering in summer. Many “new” shows have gotten their start as summer features namely, American Idol. Premiering in the Spring against established television competition has proved challenging for the new concept. In the summer, the whole family could experience the show and it’d be the perfect timing for in-person promotions. The Today show does a summer concert series and many cities have outdoor music festivals in summer. Premiering in the summer would lessen the on-air competition and provide more in-person promotional opportunities.
- Utilize the TODAY show. It’s simple, the artists should be interviewed on the Today show and the “winner” of each qualification should perform live on the Today show the next morning.
- Make American Idol your ally not your competition. People who watch Idol would love the American Song Contest. NBC is used to beating Idol with The Voice, the overconfidence that the American Song Contest could win over the established Idol misfired.
- Clarify the rules and process for viewers. Americans love competition but in order to really dig into any competition, people need to know the rules. With the long airtime of the show paired with a viewership slightly confused by this new import, more time spent explaining how things work in the broadcast could retain more viewers.
- Mix up the juries away from industry professionals and choose established artists. The Voice provided a really good lesson that even brought American Idol back to our televisions: People like celebrities and they like to watch them judge other performers. Yes, there are some semi-well known performers in the ASC jury but the jury process hasn’t been profiled AT ALL on the show. The jury should be a recording artist from each state— Full stop. How would that work? Answer: Each juror would not only rate each entry but in the final we’d have an opportunity for the representative of each state to connect with the juror (with a camera crew in tow— of course). The juror would give the entry some advice and it’d be great to see to the creatives connect. Currently, the bulk of jurors are from the radio industry but the songs at the ASC aren’t getting nationwide radio play… so what is the function? It might have been the goal to have radio folks as jurors in hopes they’d play the music but it is safe to say that that isn’t happening en masse. The “new” announcement that the winner would be played on iHeart feels more like a last ditch justification for iHeart’s over-saturated presence on the jury.
- Create the “Jury SAVE”. Juries do serve an important role at the Eurovision Song Contest, but the juries for the American Song Contest could function differently. Like many reality shows that began to introduce a “save” opportunity, the American Song Contest should rethink the role of the jurors. Let the top televote winners advance and then let the jury dictate the “saves” or redemption artists.
- Hire a social media team that is experienced with influencer outreach. Watching the final product, it makes it hard to believe that focus group testing was done (no confirmation it was done). As just one of many public American Eurovision creators it’s unfortunate that folks were not actively consulted about the show format. Collaborating with influencers is not an unusual practice. Perhaps the collaboration would have delivered a more consistent format and product for casual viewers. Notably, the digital promotion of the show seems to be done by a larger NBC based digital team as opposed to a dedicated ASC social media team. Working strategically with digital influencers would help to amplify the show and expand the reach in core viewership demographics.
- Develop and nurture an American Song Contest and Eurovision partnership. Much like the Junior Eurovision winner speaking at the Eurovision Grand Final, ASC needs to figure out how it will “show up” for the ESC. Even if the tie-in is mostly virtual this close collaboration would ground the young-ASC and lend it some credibility.
Ultimately, the inaugural American Song Contest performers made their mark. From hip-hop to country, R&B to electronic— the American Song Contest introduced a new crop of talent to so many and hopefully this is the first of many opportunities the United States and all its territories has to showcase our talent.