The Walt Disney Co. is making ad-supported Webcasts of its ABC prime-time TV shows permanently available this fall, following a successful two-month test that drew a younger, more educated audience, a Disney official said on Friday.
ABC offered five shows during the test: “Desperate Housewives,” “Commander in Chief,” “Lost” and “Alias.” If they keep the same ad model, you only have to watch 30-seconds of an ad and then you can click out and back to the show. Ad breaks were within the first twenty or so minutes so you could watch over half the show with no interruption. There were no Mac compatibility problems. They archived the shows online but you were not able to download them. They did a very good job on this. (You can check my previous posts here and here.)
(I believe the shows were removed from the site in June. Right now, I can’t find any mention of any free episodes there.)
According to Reuters, the shows were viewed 16 million times and 87 percent of the viewers remembered the sponsor. (Each show had a single sponsor.) Typical ad recall on commercial TV is 40 percent.
Hell, I almost remember some of the advertisers even after a couple of months. (I think Oil of Olay was one. I know there were a bunch of movie trailers on another including “Cars” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Another episode was sponsored by a major cell company. Cingular?)
So the major disruption of the legacy advertising model continues. I’d love to know the money numbers of the online ads compared to sponsoring a prime time episode of Lost. Gotta be cheaper. But you get more data on the viewers.
I’m a Lost addict but I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode via network broadcast. I started in the second season and caught the first season and the start of the second via Netflix and ad-free iTunes purchases (this was prior to the ABC webcasts). Then my daughter started recording episodes for me on VHS. Then ABC started the webcasts.
The economic disruption of webcasting is hard to predict. As true broadband is rolled out and we really can view TV via the Web, will Tivos fade away? The only thing I see for certain is that the current stone-age advertising practices are going the way of the dinosaur.