The CW: Getting Digital Dollars, Not Digital Pennies

The CW's radical move this past upfront in June -- selling a one-for-one package of an Internet commercial and a TV spot to advertisers -- has been a big success.

This is according to Dawn Ostroff, president of entertainment for the network, speaking at the Television Critics Association meeting in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The move pushed CW to add additional commercials to its Internet airings, more than other networks, resulting in a similar load to traditional TV shows. The aim was to add back all those young CW viewers, who, more than other network viewers -- typically older audiences -- watch more TV shows online.

What will viewers think? That is yet to be determined. But from a business point of view, it is a big hit. Ostroff says the strategy is being "wholly embraced" by the ad community.

All this means more money. "We're no longer looking at digital pennies," said Ostroff. "We've achieved digital dollars ... I think this may become the blueprint for the rest of the industry. We've all been trying to figure it out, but this may be the answer."

Ostroff didn't reveal how much money CW gained from this move or what effect it had on the Internet price-per-thousand viewer prices (CPMs), which can typically be 25% to 50% higher than on traditional TV.

Higher Internet CPMs are the result of many factors. One is that there are fewer commercials in TV shows seen on the Internet versus those viewed on traditional TV outlets.

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1 comment about " The CW: Getting Digital Dollars, Not Digital Pennies ".
  1. David Weller , July 30, 2010 at 12:02 p.m.

    I'm a fan of multi-screen packages like this one, but wonder how viewers will respond to the heavy ad loads in their TV programs online. Retaining viewers during four minute commercial blocks on traditional TV is already difficult. Getting viewers to watch a four minute block of commercials on their PC or mobile device? Impossible, if current research is to be believed.

    And that's not including the singularly unique benefit of online advertising: engagement and conversion. Multiple products jockeying for attention during frequent forced interruptions has been shown to discourage user engagement on every level. I wouldn't advertise my product in that online enviro.

    Hats off to CW for bringing online TV in from the cold, but pasting an old business model onto a new technology and hoping for the same results is rarely the best solution, in my experience. Sponsorship, brand integration, and exclusivity deals might be better options here.