Let’s cut to the chase. These are as crazy times. With a pandemic wreaking havoc on millions of lives, the economy in tatters and a toxic political climate fracturing our society, a string of horrific racist acts millions of Americans have emerged from a COVID lock down to fight for justice in the streets.
TV networks are changing their coverage, watching their messaging and sending crews to the front lines. But perhaps no media company has taken a bigger risk or shown as much solidarity to millions more than ViacomCBS. Earlier this week– and ahead of most any media company, ViacomCBS used its network footprint to broadcast 8:46 minutes of black screen with the sound of breathing and the infamous I can’t breathe”: words that have become a battle cry since they were first uttered by Eric Garner in 2014 when he was murdered by police.
While the expectation is that a long sad yet simple wouldn’t keep the attention of channel flipping Americans. ViacomCBS did it anyway, foresaking any revenues and risking viewer attrition.
According to Inscape the smart TV data company, it turns out, people stayed.
To be 1.5% on TVs were tuned to ViacomCBS networks when they collectively went dark and in an unprecedented show of solidarity for Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd. At the end of the period, a full 1.3% of TVs were still tuned in. The viewership flight was minimal, and the impact desired delivered spectacularly.