Nourishing Content

Nourishing Content

How our viewing habits inform brand engagement.

The Golden Globes are changing their name to the Bronze Globes. You heard it here first: The awards show is no longer worthy of the precious-metal moniker and has been asked to drop it from their name.

I jest—but not about the show’s viewership decline, down 64 percent from 2020, to fewer than 7 million viewers for the 2021 event that aired in late February. For context, in 2004, the Golden Globes show drew 26.8 million viewers.

Some attributed this year’s sharp drop to the lack of diversity among award winners and judges. That makes sense—except anger often prompts more people to tune in and vocalize their discontent. Others might say the awkwardness of an awards show staged at great distance was painful to watch, but at least those critiquing it did watch. Or perhaps it’s the pandemic’s fault, and all live events are getting hit by bad viewership.

Yet the Super Bowl lost only 9 million viewers this year (91 million, compared with 100 million in 2020). So how do we account for a two-thirds drop in viewership for the Bronze Globes? Even Oprah pulled in an audience of 17 million viewers for a conversation about some British people most Americans really shouldn’t care much about, right? Perhaps it’s because the glitz and glamour of an awards show paying homage to a group of people least affected by the pandemic and recession just doesn’t sit well in the current environment. Or is that just my cynical side sneaking up on me?

Content needs to elevate your brand and attach greater meaning. It needs to make you proud to say you’ve enjoyed consuming it, not cringing with guilt by association.

Attention is a scarce resource, and keeping it is something Hollywood has been exceptionally good at for many decades. But there’s still a pandemic going on, and fatigue with content that isn’t deemed rewarding, like a virtual awards show, seems reasonable; we’re weary and less interested in “virtue signaling.”

As we’ve increased our media consumption exponentially in the past year, we can be more particular about what we watch to nourish our minds. Consider the types of content we consume, and think of awards shows as cotton candy—and we can take a pass, because there’s another episode of Poldark to watch.

If you need more evidence, look to The Queen’s Gambit, a highly successful limited series—about chess! It captured 62 million global viewers; that’s only 30 million behind the Super Bowl. The show was everywhere in pop culture, with endless coverage of the actors and story lines, not to mention a spike in sales of chess sets. Talk about audience engagement.

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Anya Taylor-Joy reacts via video
Anya Taylor-Joy reacts via video after being announced the winner of the Best Actress—Television Motion Picture award for The Queen’s Gambit at the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

“Engagement” gets thrown around a lot these days. Essentially, engagement is the “calories consumed” of content: More calories mean more value to advertisers. But on a deeper level, it’s not quite that simple. Are people any less engaged with the Kardashians than they are with The Queen’s Gambit? Certainly not, but they’re getting better calories from The Queen’s Gambit, and those associations are what benefit brands. If the Kardashians are sugar and simple carbohydrates, then The Queen’s Gambit has to be Kashi honey puffs—good and healthy. Better calories mean better engagement and associations.

Now, let’s get current and relevant. With the changes in the media landscape, brands are now content creators. As many say, good content is king (let’s say “queen” instead, so much better). So how does this “queen content” impact your brand-building conversations?

That content doesn’t need to create shallow drama and leave us feeling empty. Content needs to elevate your brand and attach greater meaning. It needs to make you proud to say you’ve enjoyed consuming it, not cringing with guilt by association.

To start, ask yourself, “Will the content keep my audience’s attention?” But make sure you finish with, “Will they be better off because they gave you their time?” Put another way, is the content going to feed your audience and contribute to the larger community? If you can answer yes, then you have something worth attaching to your brand.

As demands and diversions multiply, an engaged audience is that much tougher to achieve. The cotton candy might be there for the grabbing, but it’s in your interest to spend a bit more time creating and associating with something more nourishing.

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