P&G gets ready to clean up…
“The fog comes in on little cat feet…” wrote Carl Sandburg in 1919.
He wasn’t talking about the end of conventional television, but it works just as well.
Advertising is the lifeblood of television, its oxygen. Take away the ad money and all you have is really wires in a box.
Up until now, advertisers and television networks have been joined at the hip. The networks got the ads into people’s houses, the advertisers paid for the carriage and the content.
The web is a wild technology let loose, and no one can really predict where it’s going to strike next. But we know a few things about it for sure: one of those is that it eliminates the barriers to entry.
That means that any Joe with a video camera can make content. That one we’ve got down pretty well. But it also means that any major corporation who used to pay ABC for access to people’s homes, one day wakes up and realizes that it does not need ABC.
I mean, what are they paying for, exactly?
In an era in which you can deliver broadcast quality video to everyone’s home, not only across the country but around the world online for no cost – what value is there to an FCC license?
But wait, there’s more.
As we enter the world of digital, nonlinear and Tivo (among others), the first thing to go are the ads. Who wants to watch them in a VOD world anyway?
So, here’s a novel concept – have the advertiser produce the programming directly and put it right on their own website – where viewers can click and play while they watch. No ads at all, and all ads all the time.
Nike, for example, would simply take the money it used to pay to ESPN and ABC Sports and buy the rights to Major League Baseball. Want to watch a game – click on Nike.com. It would be, in fact, the only place you could watch the game. But who cares?
(Except of course, ABC Sports, who would care a lot).
Now this theoretical model is coming to pass – with Soap Operas.
A few weeks ago, we went to ABC Daytime to try and pitch a reality-based soap. Shot with small cameras, edited on laptops – you get the concept. ABC told us that they were backing out of the Soap business. Too expensive, not enough ratings.
Now, lo and behold, Proctor and Gamble (the folks who have funded stuff like The Guiding Light) are breaking out and striking out on their own.
The New York Times reports today that P&G are commissioning their own mini soaps for online only, bypassing the need for ABC.. or anyone else.
Listen carefully… hear those little cat feet?