What Associations Can Learn from ‘The Voice’

It may be a show about aspiring music superstars with hotshot judges, but NBC’s “The Voice” can teach associations a lesson in how to navigate turning points.

Sometimes, the best business ideas aren’t found in strategy books. They’re right in front of you, lurking behind a seemingly innocuous reality show about aspiring singers.

But before you turn the channel on “The Voice,” tune in for some real-life business smarts. Here’s why:

We built our strategy around ‘The Voice.’ We wanted to use Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to build momentum and we’ve successfully done it.

From the Lows…

The television network NBC hit a low point last year, struggling to bring in viewers for a Michael Scott-less version of “The Office” and several new shows that never quite gained their footing (“Are You There, Chelsea?” and “Awake” were just two that sank before they swam). And who can forget the Twitter hashtag #NBCFail that littered the social media network with hand-wringing and frustrated viewers who couldn’t watch the Olympics live? It seemed like NBC had hit an ultimate low.

…to the Highs

An unlikely answer on how to give NBC a much-needed ratings boost came into play recently: “The Voice,” a show (which launched in April 2011) that focuses on the singing talent of participants, who are coached by a team of famous judges, including Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton.

“We built our strategy around ‘The Voice,’” Paul Telegdy, the president of reality and late-night programming for NBC, told The New York Times. “We wanted to use Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to build momentum, and we’ve successfully done it.”

Network execs used this year’s Super Bowl as a launching pad for the show, promising a large audience that might stay tuned after the big game (NBC drew a record 177 million viewers to at least part of the game that night). The next key decision was to produce the show twice in one season, a fingers-crossed move to boost primetime ratings.

Later, NBC was willing to take some risks with the show’s format, which originally had the coaches pick the singers “blindly” with their backs turned, swinging their chairs upon choosing. “This season, the show introduced an element it called ‘the steal,’ which allowed the coaches to take singers from another coach,” New York Times reporter Bill Carter noted.

Why it matters

The push for competition and more episodes (despite grueling schedules for the coaches and producers) has paid off. “The Voice” has bumped up NBC’s ratings among viewers ages 18 to 49, adding almost 25 percent Sunday nights and up more than 200 percent on Mondays.

The result? NBC’s big risks are starting to see a trickle-down effect, with ratings improving for shows that come on after “The Voice.”

Has your association taken any big risks lately? What are some of your successes from thinking strategically?


Chloe Thompson

By Chloe Thompson

Chloe Thompson is a contributing writer to Associations Now. MORE

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