AVOD Solves Declining Ad Pricing Of Linear Big-Budget Scripted TV

With traditional linear TV increasingly putting its production focus on live TV content -- sports, news, and non-scripted reality -- where does this leave premium-scripted programming?

While a number of analysts would point to Netflix, Disney+ and others, some believe the ad-supported streaming model could boost high-production/scripted TV programming.

“There is a growing push to monetize these genres in an AVOD window, like Peacock or Pluto TV, or a hybrid AVOD/SVOD model, like Hulu or CBS All Access,” writes Michael Nathanson, media analyst, of MoffettNathanson Research. “We believe AVOD will become an increasingly important driver of TV ad growth going forward.”

In part, scripted dramas, comedies and other content seem to be the odd man out -- especially in light of the current ad pricing on traditional linear TV.

MoffettNathason Research analysis -- along with data from Advertising Age -- says unit pricing for TV networks scripted programming is down nearly 15% this year to $134,000 per a 30-second TV commercial. Reality competition shows slipped 8% to $152,000. On the flip side, NFL football programming is now 8% higher in 2019 to $507,000 for a 30-second TV commercial.



Not so ironically, these percentage gains are roughly the viewership direction each of these programming categories have gone this year.

How do networks make back some of their lost revenues? It goes to the usual complaints about offering a single currency for all program viewing on any platform to sell to TV marketers.

But to do this effectively, more ad-supported video on demand platforms (generating a decent level of impressions) owned by TV networks/producers and otherwise is needed.

At what price should these AVOD platforms operate? Consider the already low price of popular ad-free platforms: Apple TV+ at $4.99, Disney+, $6.99, for example.

How then to distinguish between AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) and SVOD (subscription ad-free video on demand)? Think free -- as in real free.

This is something Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, had mulled over in the past. That is, bring in new streaming platforms akin to when broadcasting over-the-air networks started. Free-entertainment, ad-supported networks where the only consumer costs was a TV set and electricity.

These days, that total monthly utility cost has expanded a bit -- it's now electricity and broadband.

Offering ad-supported services -- like Pluto TV, Tubi, Roku Channel, but with much higher profile premium-scripted programming -- can create a clear distinction from a subscription platform. Free or pay.

Maybe that latter modifier accounts for what existing and new premium services mean by their additives: Plus, + and Max.

3 comments about "AVOD Solves Declining Ad Pricing Of Linear Big-Budget Scripted TV".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 17, 2019 at 10:42 a.m.

    Wayne, there is little doubt that AVOD is going to feature a high proportion of expensive primetime type programming---like sci-fi, detective, doctor dramas and their sitcom counterparts and that advertisers will pay much higher CPMs to exploit these shows as platforms for their ad campaigns via traditional commercials as well as product placement deals. However, a primary inducement for the broadcast TV networks and larger cable players to support a reasonable amount of such fare---in addition to the common senseĀ  motive to offer a balanced menu---not just newsmagazines and reality shows--- is the back end profitability of successful dramas and sitcoms. These represent a sourse of considerable non-ad revenues to networks that "partner" with producers and share in the lucrative syndication rerun profits. So it's only a matter of time when we shall see a resurgence of "quality" content on primetime TV schedules. These things come and go in cycles.

  2. Howard Shimmel from datafuelX, Inc., December 17, 2019 at 6:23 p.m.

    Someone needs to run a model that looks at all the various differences between linear and digital selling- higher ad load in linear, inventory sold on audiences, not age/sex in digital, inability to monetize beyond 7 days in linear, ability to monetize all telecast viewing in digital- and determine how different the revenue per consumption hour is in linear versus digital. That will determine whether how the movement of audiences to digital will impact programmer revenue.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 17, 2019 at 6:59 p.m.

    Good points, Howard. I would add that the nature of the original content in AVOD will probably define it as offering premium priced GRP inventory, which means that it will compete mainly with primetime broadcast TV primetime shows---which limits the battleground to only $10-12 billion dollars per year, not the total for all forms of TV which is around $70 billion. Demos will also play a part-with AVOD slanted younger and upscale at the start---hence more "desirable". And we must not forget the comparability question. Will they find a magical audience standard for defining AVOD and "linear TV" GRPs on equal terms---especially as the ads in AVOD may be fewer and scheduled differently.

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