Citing psychographics instead of demographics, Sony Crackle identified three segments of its core audience at its annual upfront press briefing in New York City: Alphas, Rechargers and ThrillSeekers.
“The attributes, the beliefs and values can predict intent more than age and gender,” said Eric Berger, chief digital officer, Sony Pictures Television Networks and general manager, Sony Crackle. “Last year when we talked about our annual study of 1,500 people, adults ages 25 to 44, we shared insights on our target psychographic of our most engaged audience, streamers on game consoles, who we refer to as ‘connectors.’”
“This year we did a deeper dive and dug into the psychographic to better understand content preference and attitudes about advertising,” he added. “And we uncovered three subsets of this ‘connector’ audience.”
Alphas, according to a study conducted by research firm Minor & Company, are heavy gamers and moderate streamers. Rechargers are heavy entertainment consumers with mainstream taste. ThrillSeekers are made up of action-movie fans. Understanding the three, according to Eric Berger, enables the free ad-supported digital platform from Sony Pictures Television to better serve its advertisers.
“Because we are ad-supported, we are also mindful of the consumer’s experience and why they are migrating away from linear, so we have continued to lead the charge in shaping the future of our business by reducing the ad load,” added Berger. “Mixed with this insight into our viewers’ habits, their likes and dislikes, and what kind of environment would encourage retention, we have re-imagined our look.”
Touting quality programming on a free platform, there was no shortage of original scripted programming presented by Sony Crackle.
Season two of recently introduced drama The Oath, executive produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and starring Ryan Kwanten and Sean Bean, was announced. New comedy Rob Riggle’s Ski Master debuts this August, and the new seasons of dramas Snatch, starring and executive produced by Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint, and StartUp will open in September and November, respectively. Minnie Driver, meanwhile, is joining the voice cast of season three of animated SuperMansion.
Sony Crackle, additionally, has acquired sports entertainment company Nitro Circus’ Action Figures franchise. Included is new movie Action Figures 2, and five of Nitro Circus’ TV series: Crazy Train, Nitro Circus Live, AmBADASSador, Oh Sh*t Moments and World’s First. Crackle also is partnering with production company Embassy Row, whose Michael Davies hosts all-things-soccer series Men in Blazers with Roger Bennett, for a series of shorts in anticipation of World Cup 2018, and an untitled sports series with NRG Esports.
“This not just the era ‘Peak TV,’ it is also the era of ‘Peak Everything,’” said Berger. “Video games, social media, even wide experiences are competing for consumer time and attention. The traditional ways of scheduling shows to aggregate audiences with their content to generate interest for advertisers just don’t put the consumers first. So, the consumers seek out content, watch it on their own terms and, increasingly, that means On Demand with no advertising on a streaming service.”
The broadcast and cable networks, of course, see the content window more from a linear perspective, with digital as an add-on incentive. But Sony Crackle sees the world through a “console-first lens,” as described by Berger, which drives its approach to product, content and advertising experiences where the consumer starts with the gaming console first and then cascades out to different remaining devices and segments.
“We know what the audience wants and how to create a destination that empowers the audience to engage,” he said.
In development at Sony Crackle are four potential scripted dramas: Heart of Darkness, Hustle, Cry Victory and Limitless: Origins. Heart of Darkness, is a reimagining of Joseph Conrad’s novel set in the future where Earth is a distant memory. Hustle is the tale of an assistant coach (Entourage’s Kevin Connolly) who will do whatever it takes to recruit the best prospects. Cry Victory focuses on the aftermath of fighting a war with an invading alien army. And Limitless Origins, based on the feature film of the same name with Bradley Cooper, explores the origin story of how the drug NZT first hit the streets. An earlier version of the movie aired as a drama on CBS in the 2015-16 TV season.
Sony Crackle, additionally, is eyeing dramedy Squads Goals Squad from the creators of Harold and Kumar about a dysfunctional unit of millennial crimefighters.