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Television networks are desperately trying to bring their ad dollars from television onto the web. And Comcast's new strategy to earn ad dollars online is to simply shift put all of its content there.
A new partnership with Time Warner, called TV Everywhere, is bringing Comcast content online for their television subscribers. But while TV viewers might be glad to see that content on the web, they will be less enthusiastic about the fact that it comes with all of the network's television commercials.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
"Web versions of some TV shows in the trial, including TNT's "The Closer," will carry their full load of ads from traditional TV. That's more than four times the ad load on many Internet sites. Many hourlong shows are available to watch online with a single 30-second spot in each of five or six commercial breaks."
Online, advertising sold against professional video content is often sold at higher rates than television ads because the ads are shorter. And there are fewer of them. On Hulu for instance, commercial breaks only display one ad.
But Comcast is not willing to part with the money making capabilities of its TV content and is bringing its entire ad lineup online.
Andy Heller, vice chairman of Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting, tells The Journal: "We spend billions of dollars buying and making these programs. And if we give this stuff to consumers for free with limited ads, it'll go away."
As of yet, it is unclear how great online viewers' tolerance for video ads actually is. Thirty second preroll ads have gotten a bad rap, but earlier this year ABC found that doubling the number of ads during full-length video programming online from four to eight had no adverse effects on viewer satisfaction. Meanwhile, this week, MTV announced they've been having success with very short (5 second) preroll ads followed by a delayed overlay ad.
But Comcast's plan has less to do with optimization than just shifting programming that's making money on TV to the online space.
eMarketer predicts that spending on online video ads will rise 42 percent next year to $1.5 billion. And a new survey released by Nielsen proves that viewers are accepting of advertising. 71% of global respondents agreed that "advertising contributes to growth of the economy."
The networks are scared of cannibalizing content. But online advertisers often pay a premium online for less cluttered advertising. Ads running alongside web video are shorter, less cluttered and more targeted.
A new survey from Solutions Research Group found that 73 percent of Time Warner and Comcast subscribers polled thought the idea of their authentication plans (TV Everywhere and OnDemand Online, respectively) were either an “excellent” or a “good” idea.
While it may be appealing to shift TV ad content online, a bigger issue is getting people to watch in the space. And viewers aren't likely to watch Comcast shows online if they get the exact same product over a less enjoyable interface. Especially when there is currently a way to skip online ads.