Streaming Super Bowl Ads; Dish DVR At CES; TV Everywhere Distro Deals

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January 9, 2012 – 12:03 am

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A First: NBC Streams Super Bowl Ads

While a 30-second Super Bowl spot this year is going for $3.5 million on average -- and as much as $4 million, Comcast's NBC is also looking to see how well ads do on the simultaneous streaming broadcast on NBCSports.com – a first for the network, the WSJ's Suzanne Vranica reported last week (subscription).

NBC Sports' rep Chris McClosky wouldn't divulge the names of the marketers making their appearance online, saying only that the network had limited the number of streaming ads to about eight advertisers. And while he didn't say how many actual ads from those marketers would be running during the Super Bowl video He did confirm that the marketers would be paying between six and seven figures.

The ads were sold as part of packages and some will be part of a cross-platform deal associated with the regular TV broadcast. The reason for limiting the ads has more to do with the nature of online video ad sales by broadcast networks. The streaming Super Bowl ads will run according to a structure NBC already uses for its regular football broadcast streams on Sundays.

Part of it is done because online viewers' tolerance for ads is still not on a par with the amount deemed acceptable for traditional TV. But it's also meant to create scarcity, since these views are still small relative to broadcast. By keeping the inventory low, networks don't have to worry about competing with themselves. After all, many marketers might might demand lower prices for streaming if clutter rises and users tune out.

The networks have tended to be of two minds when it comes to increasing commercial pods for online. But if NBCSports.com attracts a sizable amount of attention for its streaming ads, the network will certainly consider a more aggressive approach to its digital advertisers when this summer's London Olympics ad sales negotiations begin in earnest.

Dish To Preview Multiroom DVR At CES

Along with its satellite TV provider rival DirecTV, Dish Network has been one of the pioneers of digital ads. The company is planning a series of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show this week that will show how it plans to expand its digital offerings.

First, Multichannel News' Todd Spangler reported that Dish released an iPad app for its Blockbuster @Home service in advance of CES. The app is available to subscribers of premium movie packages from channels like HBO or Cinemax.

As it kicks off CES, Dish is expected to introduce a multiroom DVR called “Hopper” as as well as a broadband satellite to be released in the summer.

The expansion of the long-promised streaming-only Blockbuster service for non-Dish subscribers will offer the best chance yet for the company develop greater digital ad revenue. And it could ultimately show Netflix the way to build advertising into its streaming business, which continues to draw complaints about its relatively thin viewing selection. By allowing ads into the streams of TV shows, it could give Hulu more of a run and re-establish its value to subscribers – something it still working on after the debacle over its decision to separate its streaming and physical DVD rental business at the end of last summer.

Dish and Blockbuster are certainly operating a little more under the radar than Netflix, who's slightest move draws out scrutiny. That said, it will be interesting to see whether its early announcement at CES will be able to raise the digital profile of the brick-and-mortar video renter as it works on the comeback plan that started when Dish bought it for the bargain price of $320 million in April.

TV Everywhere Distribution Deals -- Everywhere?

Until recent years, TV programs' distribution deals extended to syndication and that was about it. But with the rise of online video, digital is now a permanent part of the landscape and things have gotten more complicated. What's the value of a Hulu run versus TBS?

Well, things are only going to get more complicated, as TV Everywhere deals, which will allow programs to be accessible to authenticated cable subscribers on their PC and mobile devices, will be factored into future negotiations among cable, satellite and telco TV program package providers, Mediapost's Wayne Friedman reports, quoting Discovery Communications' Brad Singer, SVP/CFO.

Singer, who was speaking CitiCorp media conference, warns that networks and MSOs may not see eye-to-eye on much.

"There is a lot of complexity," says Singer. "It may take longer than people expect. We haven't had any [major carriage] renewals, which is good impetus to do something."

When asked whether the slowness of measurement of video usage on digital platforms could curtail these deals, he said "that's one part of the valued equation." Singer said "they can measure in the home, but they can't do tablets [and other mobile digital devices] from my understanding," He added: "Ultimately, it will get measured."

The comments certainly were timely, as Walt Disney struck a major TV/video distribution deal with Comcast for traditional TV and new digital video platforms, as paidContent's Staci D. Kramer reported. The deal has one thing that might please MSOs, networks and especially consumers, namely the likelihood of helping avert fights over retrans fees and threats of cable channel blackouts – like the current dispute between Time Warner Cable and MSG – for the next decade.

But Wait. There's More!

By David Kaplan


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January 9, 2012 – 12:03 am

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