Web Television is growing, that’s a fact that is indisputable at this moment in time. As broadband speeds increase, that’s only likely to carry on from now on.
In the end, there will come a time when we’re all watching television on demand over the Internet using a set top box. The idea of traditional television will then be dead.
Until that happens however, we have a bit of a dead zone, where as much as networks want to embrace the new technology and new ways of distributing their content, there isn’t the money there to make it worth their while.
A Magic Formula
TV networks are therefore looking for a magic formula which sees online advertising pay for the potential loss in audience (both from TV and DVD sales) from making their output available on the Web.
According to Yahoo News, CBS recently took a risk by offering the first episode of the new series of Big Bang Theory online.
The risk paid off however, as 90,000 people watched online, and then the episode did better than expected on traditional television. This seems to suggest that making full episodes available online doesn’t necessarily mean a cut in viewing figures.
Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive said of the experiment:
“The thought was purely to try to find new eyeballs in a medium that generally appeals to younger demographics, and then drive them to put butts in seats to watch on their beautiful plasma-screen TV when the series takes off.”
It was fairly radical, and we’re happy with how it came out.”
Making series or up to date episodes available online actually builds viewing figures, and can make a show if knowledge of it goes viral before it airs on the network itself.
Advertising Revenue Increases
Then there is the advertising benefits. Networks actually now charge more per thousand viewers online than they do over the airwaves.
While the average for a prime time show offline is about $25, analysts put the online rate anywhere from $35 to $50 per thousand. At the moment, this is neutered by the fact that many more millions watch offline than on, but the time will come when that changes for good.
There is also the opportunity to offer targeted adverts to people online much more than you ever can offline, which should again see the advertising rates increase over time.
There still isn’t a clear picture of what advertising model will prevail when it comes to Web television, but the forward thinking companies are at least experimenting to see what will work and what won’t.
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