Update: my simple methods of modeling might overstate the number of ads by as many as 4-10 commercial spots, depending on what percentage of the ads are typically local rather than national spots, and what percentage is allocated to network promos. The local ad load (even if the ads are for national brands) would likely not be included. I'm not sure what they will do with network promos.
We recently learned that the television networks' plans with all the talk of Nielsen competitors and convergence measurements were based on a pretty simple philosophy: for the first 3 days videos of shows are available online they will carry exactly the same national commercial loads as on television. The networks want to be able to charge for them online as well as offline.
So what is currently five or six spots when you're watching Heroes on NBC.com or Hulu would balloon to around thirty-two thirty second spots if things go according to the plan. That's more than five times the commercials you currently have to endure online.
According to Jack Wakshlag who heads up research for Turner (TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TruTV, etc) and has participated both with the CIMM initiative and is part of the group discussing Nielsen's "TV Everywhere" convergence measurement plans, the plan is to have the same commercials in programs online as aired on TV for the first three days.
TV ads are bought and sold based on a metric called C3 (live commercial viewing, plus 3 days worth of DVR viewing) and they want to extend this to capture some of the online viewing.
I'd originally balked at those plans precisely because the commercial loads in online video are so different than on TV, but according to Wakshlag the plan is to make them the same, at least for 3 days.
I know there will be a lot of complaining about the increased ad loads if it happens. People will claim that more people will download the shows via peer-to-peer, or that the increased commercials will chase people to other sources for the content. I'm sure that will happen to a degree, but at least for now, I don't think it will be to a large degree. I don't fault the TV networks for wanting to do this, it makes a lot of sense to me. As does their desire to get the measurements to support it sooner, rather than later.
I view this as a pretty intriguing story, particularly what will amount to huge increases to the number of ads in online video streams of TV shows. But the first time I posted about it, not all that many people read it. So I am trying again to assess whether this is actually really a big deal story, or whether it's like my obsession with Video On Demand where I am really interested, but most people just don't really care about it.
By the way theoretically On Demand will ALSO will carry the same commercial loads as the TV airing -- and props to AMC's Mad Men which already does this, whether the advertisers are paying or not.