When Fringe premieres tomorrow night, what you'll see on screen isn't just a product of the collective minds of JJ Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. It's also the product of biometric audience testing, to fine-tune just how addictive the show can be made to America at large. Is this the new scientific face of television to come?TVWeek reports on the advanced testing that Fringe underwent:
"We knew we had to have a big win, clearly. We knew we had to have very nuanced measurement," said Audrey Steele, senior VP for sales and research marketing at Fox. "We've wanted to work with Innerscope [Research] for a long time, and we thought this was the perfect opportunity." Innerscope's biometric approach gave Fox the ability to measure engagement in ways that go beyond simply viewer attention. "We really wanted something that could quantify, without people having to report, their level of enjoyment of both the show and the ads in there," Ms. Audrey said. Carl Marci, Innerscope's co-founder and CEO, said his company uses biometrics to measure emotions, which are the prime determinants of all kinds of complex behaviors. The reactions it picks up are on the subconscious level as the audience receives stimuli-in this case TV programming.
The ultimate goal of the tests? To prove that viewers like less commercials - and, unsurprisingly, they do:
Viewers were engaged 91% of the time during the shorter ad breaks, compared to 75% of the time during the normal-length breaks. The 75% figure shows "Fringe" is a pretty engaging program regardless of format. During an average show, viewers are engaged 63% of the time during commercial pods. Some viewers also were eye-tracked to measure how much time they spent focused on the screen. Viewer attention was 31% higher among those who saw the show with fewer spots.
Yes, that's right; Fox needed scientists to tell them that less ads in a show is a good thing. Next, news of a scientific breakthrough that demonstrates that viewers respond well to good writing and acting. Fox Goes Sci-Fi to Measure ‘Fringe' Ad Effectiveness [TV Week]