True-crime has become the ultimate guilty pleasure for millions of people across the U.S. in the form of mini-series, podcasts, documentaries, and in some cases, complete TV channels dedicated to the topic. But who is watching and why? Many media outlets and hosts have figured that out and learned how to capitalize on both their true-crime interests and the demographic.
Who’s Out There?
It has been a long-standing fact that women are bigger true-crime fans than men. But what drives this interest and what have brands been able to learn about the target demographic to maximize their marketing efforts?
Many different reasons drive people to be fascinated by the popular genre of true-crime. For some, it’s the idea that a person has been wronged by the law, looking for holes in the criminal justice system (Serial, Making a Murderer) and dissecting the details of the case from both sides of the story. Or the possibility of solving unsolved cold-cases (Up and Vanished, Someone Knows Something). For others, it can be the fascination of a vicious villain or a popular public figure and how they happen to escape justice (The Jinx, The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story). For many, however, it seems to be the idea of protection, arming yourself with the knowledge, empowerment, and community to be aware and feel safer (My Favorite Murder).
Empowerment in Community
The true-crime comedy podcast, My Favorite Murder, has continuously gained momentum since it began in early 2016 with their ‘Murderino’ fan base. Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, have figured out that, like them, thousands of others are true-crime obsessed and have launched the podcast to talk candidly about their favorite murders and give others the space to do the same.
In a recent Rolling Stone article, Kilgariff described that she believes that true-crime fans find power in facing their fears. As such, the podcast has turned into a lifestyle for many people interacting on the show’s private Facebook group and Twitter page showcasing their own hometown murders, coming to sold-out tour stops across the country and donning their slogan, ‘Stay Sexy. Don’t get Murdered.’
True Crime Slays the Ratings
Many outlets have found ways to expand on this interest recently and are bringing their consumers’ more true-crime content.
At this year’s upfront, programming network and Eclipse Marketing client TV One announced that they will be expanding their true-crime programming from one to two days a week—Sundays and Mondays. In February, NBCUniversal announced that the woman-skewing network, Oxygen, will be rebranding as a crime-focused network. This shift comes after Oxygen found that its ratings grew with its four-night-a-week “Crime Time” weekend block, which is up 22 percent among women 25-54 and 42 percent among total viewers.
Since rebranding, Oxygen has become the fastest growing cable entertainment network, up 54% among total viewers in total day. Helping to boost these ratings was the premiere of The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway that follows Natalee’s father as he follows a new lead 12 years after her disappearance. 1.1 Million viewers tuned in to see the premiere in real-time, 30% of those viewers were among the female 25-54 demographic.
Discovery’s Investigation Discovery (ID) channel has become a favorite destination for years among the true-crime obsessed, with series like Disappeared, Deadly Affairs, and Southern Fried Homicide. Founded in 2008, ID quickly became one of the fastest growing networks, broadcast in over 100 million homes across 157 countries and territories.
According to 2016 Nielsen ratings, (ID) was the #2 ad-supported cable network for Total Day viewing with Women 25-54, topping wider distributed networks like Hallmark and USA. In total audience, ID was #15 in Prime Time in all of ad-supported cable.
Podcasting: A Thriving Platform
Podcasts have also become a popular format for investigative journalists to present their findings to a broad audience. In 2016, over 35 million people listened to podcasts weekly, with over 150 million people aware of the platform as a concept. About 21% of Americans over age 12 have listened to a podcast in the last month. To put that into perspective, 21% of Americans use Twitter and 13% of the country listens to Spotify. The growing popularity of this platform can be attributed to many factors, but most significant is the easy access to personalized content on demand. Listeners are able to choose exactly what they want to consume, when they want it, how they want it.
There are over 50 true crime podcasts available, with many added each year. Utilizing the facts that this target demographic is completely captivated by the genre has given brands a direct line to a demographic with enormous spending and decision-making power. Brands like Blue Apron, Le Tote, Simply Safe, Warby Parker, NatureBox, Casper and hundreds more have all found their place in this advertising space.
In 2016, ad spending on podcasts was estimated to be around $34 million dollars. Marketers are finding that people do not mind ads within podcasts because they are read by their hosts and they are naturally woven into the content. In this way, marketing through podcast influencers means that there is a transference of credibility, which not only builds brand awareness but trust in those products. Podcast advertisements usually offer a unique promo code to receive a discount on products which will motivate someone to make a purchase. NPR has found that 75 percent of podcast listeners take action on a sponsored message.
Regardless of what brings someone to the true-crime genre, knowledge of the makeup of that audience has become a valuable asset for marketers. Shifts in ways that people consume this content have also broadened the opportunity to reach customers in new ways.
What We’re Listening To
Which true-crime podcasts are popular among the Eclipse team? Here’s our top 5 for anyone just getting started.
My Favorite Murder
Up & Vanished