Studios Have Spent Over $1b on TV This Year

Old-TV1That’s according to this MediaPost story, which says this year’s spending of $1.07b is actually up slightly from last year’s $1.04b expenditure.

There are some standout stats from the story, including that Warner Bros. spent $36m on TV ads for San Andreas, which has a domestic box office take to date of $154m (one third of that during opening weekend), meaning 23% of the eventual results were spent on TV. Compare that to Jurassic World, for which Universal spent $34m on TV ads and went on to make $643m domestically. That means TV spending wound up being just 5% of box office.

TV ads are the epitome of movie marketing efforts as studios put all the eggs in that opening weekend basket. So we can see that through that filter all this spending worked in that it drove attendance over a three or four day frame. But it also shows that there are tons of other factors – familiarity, word of mouth, the entirety of the rest of the campaign and so much else – that plays into things that TV spending alone can’t serve every movie equally.

TV advertising, on-demand windows and the consent decree

AA039211Sounds like investors are worried a couple examples of soft ad revenue could turn out to be the proverbial canary in a coal mine for the entire TV industry.

Personally I think networks are doing everything they can to hasten the end of their dependence on ad revenue. It’s not necessarily that they’re doing it overtly, but it’s hard not to read the launch of things like CBS’s proprietary streaming service as anything but a hedging of bets against an uncertain future. It’s the TV network equivalent of making sure they have a week’s worth of bottled water in the basement in the event of a disaster.

But I think the reality of an a la carte world is turning out to be much different than anyone anticipated. And the end result of all these experiments may bring us to a point where people realize the current cable model is actually the lesser of two evils.

Right now the on-demand world is shaping up to be a confusing morass of required passwords, licensing deals and other hinderances to people getting what they want when they want it. X show is only available on Hulu, Y studio has licensed its movies only to Amazon and so on and Z network is only distributing shows on their own platform, and even then not everything. All these cost $10-$20/month, require you to have a unique account and don’t all work on the same device.

By comparison the current model, where one account and monthly fee brings in everything (or at least the majority of) you could want to one device (your TV, through some sort of cable box) seems like a much more user-friendly option.

If you think about it, those of us who grew up during the heyday of cable TV already lived through what’s now coming back around: If your parents only had a cable package that included HBO and Cinemax than the movies that were licensed exclusively to Showtime were inaccessible to you. That meant you could watch Clash of The Titans (the real one) as many time as you wanted, but Better Off Dead was out of touch.

Now we’re going back to that and we’re cutting out a big part of what made those economics work: Advertising. While the studios that produce the material stand to benefit most since they get the lion’s share of the direct-from-audience payments, the middle-men, the networks who traditionally distribute that material, are being squeezed because they overly relied on advertising (aside from cable networks like HBO of course) and shouldered many of the transmission and carriage costs.

So, again, streaming experiments by CBS and HBO provide a likely look at what’s to come. We will buy CBS and other networks directly instead of them being part of a larger package. But this model doesn’t actually address one of the public’s biggest issues with cable.

The complaint has long been that subscribing to and paying for 450 channels is inefficient because the average person may only regularly watch a couple dozen of those. But when you buy CBS you are getting everything they produce, even if you’re only interested in Mom and Hawaii 5-0. And they’re holding back The Big Bang Theory, making the entertainment value proposition even dicier.

Interestingly, this actually kind of harkens back to a practice that was outlawed decades ago. In 1948 the US Supreme Court banned movie studios from owning theaters because that ownership was getting in the way of fair distribution. Until that point Paramount and other studios owned the method of distribution. So if you wanted to see a movie by X studio you had to go to their theater. That sounds like exactly what we’re going toward here, where in order to see a show by one network (or studio since the idea of a “network” loses much of its meaning in an on-demand world) is only accessible through its proprietary system.

That was bad for the audience 60+ years ago and it’s bad for the audience now.

Letterman is just great

Watch this interview of David Letterman on the Carson Tonight Show from 22 years ago and a few things pop out:

  1. Dave basically predicts the Leno/O’Brien fiasco when he says no, he’s not mad, but he would be if NBC had given him The Tonight Show and then taken it away from him
  2. Letterman is just operating on a whole different level than anyone else. At least anyone else who’s not Johnny Carson. I remember something from a while ago which drew the distinction that whereas Leno may say funny things (your mileage may vary) Letterman just *thinks* funny.
  3. Look at how, while he is doing his thing, he clearly knows whose house he’s in. So while he’s funny and clearly having fun, he always is doing so while acknowledging the real power in the room.

The core problem with social TV

Wow do I wish I’d written this:

Okay, video startups, it’s time to get real: That social TV thing you’ve been trying for the last couple years? It’s not working.

The evidence is all around us: A few days ago, Yahoo announced that it was shutting down Intonow, the social TV service it had acquired three years ago. The announcement came on the heels of i.TV discontinuing the GetGlue service and brand which it acquired late last year in favor of its new tvtag app.

And just today, social TV company Viggle bought Dijit, better known for its NextGuide app. Dijit of course had acquired social TV pioneer Miso a year ago, just around the time when Viggle tried — and failed — to buy GetGlue.

Dizzy yet? I haven’t even mentioned Matcha, Tunerfish, Screentribe, Twelevision, Otherscreen, BeeTV, Numote or Philo yet — all startups that tried and failed to revolutionize TV by making it social. Some got acquired and eventually sidelined, others just fizzled and ran out of cash. Part of this is simply how the startup world works — for every success, there are a bunch of failures.

But there’s more to it: from the very beginning, standalone social TV apps were a solution in search of a problem.

via Let’s face it: social TV is dead — Tech News and Analysis.

Super Bowl ads will be hashtagged within an inch of their lives

I’m old enough to remember when like 10% or so of Super Bowl ads even had a URL, much less a freaking hashtag. And the URL strategy was – and is – much more sustainable than a hashtag, which isn’t necessarily unique, can be hijacked by anyone and has all sorts of other problems. But, as I’ve said many times, they’re only going to become more pervasive since most networks now support them. Which, ugh.

Per StarStar’s numbers, during last year’s big game, only 14 percent of the advertisers used a Facebook call-to-action, while 33 percent included a Twitter hashtag and 53 percent mentioned a branded online destination. It’s worth noting that Facebook did not have hashtags at this juncture a year ago and few brands were utilizing them on Instagram compared to now. So high-paying Fox advertisers such as Volkswagen might be more inclined to employ them on-screen since they are now relevant across three major platforms.

via Infographic: Will Super Bowl Advertisers Put Hashtags and Facebook URLs in Their Spots? | Adweek.

More on what movies will be promoted during the Super Bowl

The list isn’t huge – though a later update adds Noah to the list – since studios may be playing a longer game and looking at less expensive events later in the year. A stark change from seven or eight years ago, when it seemed a full quarter of Super Bowl ads were for movies.

Instead, all of the tentpoles without Super Bowl pushes will get promoted elsewhere — perhaps during the upcoming Winter Olympics, which will also attract a massive audience and cost slightly less for airtime. Or their studios will go straight to the Web with trailer launches, a move that will quickly get the ads shared to audiences via social media and prove more cost effective.

via Which Movies are In, Out of the Super Bowl | Variety.

Not sure what the point of calling the Super Bowl ads *is* anymore

I still follow Super Bowl advertising news with great interest, ever since Tom Biro and I helped redefine the publicity cycle around Super Bowl advertising.

Oh, you didn’t know we did that? We totally did.

In another sign of that strategy’s growing popularity, Google is adding for the first time a gallery of teaser video clips to the annual YouTube Ad Blitz channel devoted to Super Bowl commercials. The gallery, scheduled to go live early Friday morning, begins with preview videos from five advertisers planning to run commercials during Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2: Butterfinger, Doritos, Intuit, Squarespace and Pepsi, teasing its sponsorship of the halftime show.

“What used to be a one-day event, with some postgame water-cooler chat, is now an eight- to 13-week experience,” said Lucas Watson, vice president for brand solutions at Google.

As a result, “major advertisers are trying to win the conversation” before the game, he said, as well as during and after.

via Super Bowl Ads Get Their Own Pregame Show (and It’s an Early One) – NYTimes.com.