I give credit to the CW for attempting nearly full commercial loads for the online versions of the episodes available for streaming on CWTV.com before Nielsen measurement that will count online viewing was rolled out. Plans call for Nielsen to roll that out in April, when it will count online viewing in its commercial ratings (C3) for any viewing up to 3 days after original telecast so long as it includes the same national commercials that aired on the TV telecast.
According to Ad Age, The CW reports that in September, 95% of viewers watched the online ads to completion for shows like Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries. What that article from Ad Age doesn’t indicate is whether it now has more, less or the same online viewing as it had before increasing the number of spots online, but CW is already positioning it as a win. Update: According to the CW, the comScore streaming data shows the CW’s web streams were up by 30% Y/Y for September, and the average minutes per viewer up a whopping 140%, from 23.6minutes to 56.7 minutes. That’s great growth for CW. I’m trying to track down the actual comScore results so I can do a little bit more analysis.
“[…]dispels the myth that the online consumer will not watch commercials,” said Rob Tuck, exec VP-network sales at CW.
“I do think this will generate a change in the business model,” said Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer at WPP’s Group M. “Up until this point in time, there was this pushback issue about acceptance of commercial messages” online, he said. “Clearly people are willing to accept advertising as they do on television in exchange for content.”
WPP’s Rino Scanzoni is right, but I don’t think it’s the CW’s results that changed the business model. Things were headed in this direction because that’s what the broadcast networks and cable channels want. But that there is some data to support that people are willing to accept more ads is merely a plus. What generated a change in the business model is simple: if you run ~1/5th of the advertising online that you run on TV, there’s no way to make as much money online. The notion that because of targeting, networks can charge 2 times as much for online ads, let alone 5 times as much to make up for the differences in commercials clearly hasn’t panned out.