The entertainment market is cluttered with multiple local and international TV shows and feature films competing for our eyeballs. In the 12 months since the last season of Wentworth aired, entertainment-rival Netflix added 1.7m subscribers and Foxtel launched its own on-demand channel. More subscribers than ever before were sitting out the season to binge-watch every episode on demand, but for a broadcaster like Foxtel, eyeballs translate into ad dollars. Foxtel wants its shows to sustain their audience numbers throughout the course of a series, particularly their local productions like prison drama Wentworth. Entering its fifth season Foxtel, wanted to find an innovative way of engaging viewers with Wentworth as the storyline unfolded, week after week.
The objective was simply, to sustain engagement in the show and to make Wentworth the No. 1 drama on Foxtel every week of the season, breaking the audiences temptation to sit back and wait to binge watch the show.
To launch the fifth season of prison drama Wentworth, the campaign augmented the shows' compelling storylines using a chatbot, which distributed exclusive content to viewers via Facebook’s Messenger service. Assuming the persona of a prison-snitch, the 'Wentworth Rat' shared exclusive information and content about future episodes, creating sustained audience engagement.
The Rat was built as an entirely new character within Wentworth Prison, an anonymous inmate that gave fans unprecedented access to the show they loved.
A detailed content plan was followed which included information about exactly what the Rat could share without revealing spoilers. Throughout the series The Rat leaked content that exposed titbits about future episodes to pique intrigue and sustained engagement.
The experience would start before each episode with sneak previews of upcoming scenes, fan polls on what could happen next and elaborate conversation threads around each developing plot point. Following each episode fans joined a live-stream debrief in the Interrogation Room. Here they could debate theories and acknowledge key fans. Throughout the week The Rat would feed cryptic content from behind bars.
Wentworth became the No. 1 drama on Foxtel every week from premiere to finale. To measure The Rat's impact on retaining viewers audience decline after the Premiere was compared. The average audience per episode (excluding catch up) was 79% of the premiere. That was 3% more than last season despite having a lot less budget and facing more competition than ever before thanks to SVODs and a record-breaking 118 new Australian TV productions. The results included, 211,500 user conversations, 2.2 million interactions with an average user spending 1hr 9mins with the Wentworth Rat.
The 95% Messenger retention rate is proof the technology created opportunities to engage fans every episode.
Kellie Brown, Digital Manager, Showcase Channel | Foxtel
Jack Smyth, Innovation Director, Mindshare
Douglas Nicol, Creative Partner, On Message
Dave Flanagan, Head of Digital Production, On Message
Adriano Alga Leal, Developer, On Message
Dave Ganley, Technical Lead, On Message
Paul Fitzgerald, Digital Design Lead, On Message