ABC Ties Free Shows to Mandatory Ads
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
There is, of course, a catch, as NPR's Laura Sydell explains.
LAURA SYDELL: Is this the end of TV as we know it? No, says Josh Bernoff, an analyst at Forrester Research, who follows the new media. In fact, he thinks this may help flailing networks.
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JOSH BERNOFF: Audiences for network television have been declining for years, and this is just a way for those programs to try and regain some of that audience that they've lost, but you can still bet that most of the viewing here will be taking place on the TV sets during the time period that the programs are broadcast.
SYDELL: In fact, Bernoff says there's evidence that the sale of commercialfree programs on iTunes has increased television viewership for those same programs at airtime. This new experiment is likely to please advertisers, as the number of households with digital video recorders, capable of skipping commercials, goes up, the ad industry has been planning to cut back its spending on television commercials.
BERNOFF: In a survey that we did recently of advertisers, we found that 60 percent of them were expecting to cut their investments in television advertising once digital video recorders got to 30 million households. In a world like that, it certainly makes sense for a network to try and find other sources of revenue, and getting people to watch TV on the internet is a good place to start.
SYDELL: The advertising on the web will be different from the television model. ABC says instead of five commercial breaks during an hour, there will be three lasting a total of a minute each, all with the same advertiser. So far, Ford, Proctor and Gamble, Universal Pictures and Unilever have signed up. The experiment isn't likely to please the network affiliates, who will perceive it as a way for viewers to bypass their stations, as Mike McGuire of Gartner Media Industries. McGuire says this to the affiliates. Get used to it.
MARK MCGUIRE: This is the wave of the future. You're going to have to find other ways and other means to stay relevant because the folks who are making the program, or the shows, rather, have to be experimenting with different forms of delivery.
SYDELL: Laura Sydell, NPR News, San Francisco.
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