Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beyond TV's 30-Second Commercial

...the whole industry is moving toward a different model where deciding whether something is a hit or not is not just based on how much you charge for 30 seconds of advertising.

Brad Adgate, senior vice president for research at Horizon Media

In Edward Wyatt, "Despite Lower Ratings, Cash Flow Rises for ‘Idol’," New York Times, May 10, 2009

Despite declines in audience ratings over the past few years, the American Idol TV show is still making enormous--and growing--revenues for its owners. But the money is increasingly coming from more than the standard 30 second commercial: "The deals, which include products as disparate as ice cream and trading cards, as well as the more familiar partnerships with iTunes and AT&T, have driven tremendous growth in the profitability of “American Idol,” according to the public financial statements of the parent of 19 Entertainment, the company founded by Simon Fuller, the creator of the show." Fox Television, which broadcasts the show, also makes money by spinning off syndicated versions of it.

The activity is clearly not limited to Idol. Everyone in TV is trying to find "ancillary revenue streams" for their materials as audiences for individual programs decline with channel fragmentation and the amounts networks can charge for commercials consequently decline as well. One gauge sponsors of program deals like to see is audience "engagement" in the material. And Idol certainly still has that: "Last week, viewers cast 64 million votes, the most ever for a nonfinale episode."

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