An Unfortunate Guarantee



Many TV programmes wouldn’t be the same without their studio audiences. Live laughter, raucous applause, real reactions and audience participation enhances the viewing experience of shows of all types – quiz shows, panel shows, current events shows, family entertainment shows… TV production companies outsource the task of getting bums on seats, so finding enthusiastic audiences for these programmes has become big business and a number of companies specialise in doing exactly that.

I don’t know any programmes where studio audiences pay to attend, they are typically free, but you can imagine they vary a lot in their appeal, so demand must vary. For example, tickets to watch a prime-time chat show with A-list Hollywood actors and chart-topping musicians will probably be at the higher end of audience demand. Some shows are so popular that demand outstrips availability so they have to ballot the tickets or use other mechanisms to fairly distribute them.

Some shows are small and intimate and only need a few participants. Others need huge audiences, enough to fill a large studio, or a theatre or even an indoor arena. The easiest way for these companies to fill the available capacity is to contact people who have already been to a show and who are on their database already. I’ve attended the recording of a couple of TV shows in the past so I automatically receive one company’s newsletters and notices.

Yesterday I received an interesting offer. They were offering to GUARANTEE a priority ticket to either a Britain’s Got Talent Live Semi-final or a live audition of this year’s X-Factor… for anyone who books and attends the recording of another programme, one where almost-celebrities do uninteresting things.

This is a great example of how the added certainty of a guarantee [link] has been considered enough of a plus to make it a reward. Unfortunately, the framing of the reward just served to make the first programme sound utterly awful. Like telling a child you’ll take them on a shopping trip for a new toy if they don’t create a scene at the dentist.

Offering customers rewards for participation and engagement can work really well. Just be careful not to frame the reward in such a way you make your product or service look naff and undesirable.

I guess I just got taken off the studio audience database.

Note: If you are interested in providing a little overenthusiastic applause to the almost-celebrities in exchange for a BGT semi-final ticket, ask me and I’ll forward the email with the offer in it to you. Though please don’t think it’s a reward for reading my blog to the bottom – I’m hoping you’re doing that because you like them :)