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The CW boosts online advertising -- and other programmers are likely to follow

Do you watch the CW's "Gossip Girl" online instead of on television for convenience or because there are fewer commercials?

GOSSIP If you said the latter, then get ready for some bad news. The CW is going to start running the same number of commercials online as it does over the air. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, says that CW shows online will have 20 30-second commercials per hour, which is double the current ad load.

The reasons for this are simple. More viewers are watching content online, particularly younger people, which is the CW's target audience. Advertising is meant to pay for production costs, yet online advertising rates are much cheaper than what it costs to have a commercial run on TV. If more of the CW's audience is watching shows online, the network needs to recoup more money from that platform -- and that means more commercials. Why online advertising is valued less than TV advertising remains a mystery, but then again so does giving away content in one platform and charging for it on another.

The CW is doing what all programmers are going to have to do, which is make the online viewing experience more like TV from a business perspective. For viewers, that means more commercials. It also means getting advertisers to recognize that if I watch a show online, that should be just as valuable to them as me watching it on TV. Do I pay less attention to the pretty girl in the beer ad because it is online instead of on TV? (The answer is no, if you were wondering.)

Look for others to follow the CW's lead. Yes, there probably will be complaints about too much commercial clutter, but certainly there should not be more ads online than on television. But the reality is that if content is going to be platform agnostic, then the commercials have to be too.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: "Gossip Girl." Credit: Giovanni Rufino / The CW

Comments () | Archives (7)

Seems like a good way to get folks back in front of the boob tube instead of the computer. If there are as many commercials, or more, why bother with online's smaller screen, often slower or stuttered feeds, and now just as many commercials? And, more importantly, commercials that can't be paused and buzzed thru - unlike their TV counterparts thanks to the glorious DVR?!

I say, "No thanks to shows on the computer. I'll stick with TV!"

Define less attention.... I pay no attention to ads in either medium....

Or the CW could LEARN from this and REDUCE the TV commercial load.
This industry that has been steadily losing eyeballs year after year, and still they remain myopic and hostile to the change that's happening all around them. They should be embracing and emulating what's working online, not poisoning the online well because IT'S WORKING!


Cut down the number of commercials on TV then CHARGE MORE because there are FEWER SPOTS to be had. Then charge online viewers fifty cents or a buck a show. Win/Win/Win.

what took so f'n long for somebody to increase the commercial load?

On-line ads bring in less money because the audience is smaller. In fact, on-line ads cost more per viewer than TV ads. When cable was in it's infancy, the cable networks charged less per viewer to compensate for their small audiences. They were profitable because of cheap programming costs (repeats) and dual revenue streams. It may make for an interesting article for the LA times to look into the economics in-depth. The business model may be broken because too many unprofitable businesses provide free content on-line that is expensive to produce and stream.

They can try, but they are going to fail and fail miserably. All of these shows are available all over the web without commercials, and while people do go to cw, hulu, and nbc to watch their shows, they only do so for convenience. Once the convenience is gone and people are forced to sit through 6 - 10 minutes worth of commercials again, they will get the content elsewhere.

The age of television as we know it, is going bye bye, we are now entering the digital interactive age where advertisers and media conglomerates will have to adapt or fail.

First there was print and the only available option, and they were king, then along came radio and print tried to control radio and failed, then came TV and radio tried to stop TV, and then cable came and broadcast tried to stop it.... it is a circle of fail, and these companies never learn.


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