What do the really rich people watch on TV? That's not a plum assignment for anyone to figure out.
Plum is an entertainment company looking to build local cable networks and stations with the sole purpose of luring big-income viewers in really rich communities and resort areas--Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts; Jackson Hole, Wyo; Napa and Monterey, Calif.; Vail, Aspen, and Telluride, Colo; the Hamptons in New York.
Mainstream networks are typically proud when touting big ratings among upper income viewers--$75,000 plus or $100,000 plus. But this would be chump change to the audience Plum is looking for. You'd need to add a few zeros . What is the CPM you would pay for that kind of audience? Whatever it is, you'll need to add a few zeros.
Not surprising that some of Plum's backers aren't exactly hurting to make their Visa bill. These heavyweights include former Viacom-er Tom Freston, former MTV-er and AOL-er Robert Pittman, Island Records and Palm Pictures founder Chris Blackwell, Virgin Records chairman and CEO Jason Flom and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti, and fashionistas Kate and Jack Spade.
No doubt these backers are people who already have homes in these communities. Some $20 million has been raised so far. Plum's near-term goals are to get into 20 markets, reaching 10 million subscribers.
While this seems like a no-brainer--getting the rich to back a service to get rich viewers--there is a little bit of a problem here. Upper-income citizens are light TV viewers. Increasingly, the more they make, the less they watch.
Plum plans to take care of this by touting TV shows that appeal to rich folks' artsy-fartsy temperaments, with programs on the best ski resorts, architecture and the arts.
That is, unless this group is spending lots of time making money, skiing or surfing. How much time do really rich people spend in front of the TV set while at an expensive resort? Obviously, enough time so someone can sell a commercial for Breitling Watches.
For any income strata, TV shows still need to entertain. Everyone needs to laugh--even if it's a belly laugh emanating out of well-to-do gentleman sitting in leather chairs at a very plush country club. Everyone needs jokes, good production values, high-minded scripts, and--for some --a bit of gold-leafing.