Turn Off, Tune Out

February sweeps might as well be called February Sleeps. A prime-time schedule stuffed with repeats will likely drive television viewers online during the all-important month, says brand and advertising expert Nancy Duitch, CEO of Vertical Branding. But viewer tune-out is just the beginning. Advertisers will also defect from TV because viewing is usually down by more than one-third anyway during repeats. Plus, advertisers would need more spots to reach viewers during a repeat-filled sweeps, but marketers would probably just reach the same viewers with those added spots. Then, TV networks will scramble to deliver make-goods, while the dearth of ratings points will drive up high-value spots like the Superbowl and March Madness. 

The net result?

“You have to start diversifying your advertising,” she said. Vertical Branding already allocates 30 percent of its ad dollars to the Internet and will likely shift another 10 to 15 percent to the Web during sweeps, Duitch says.

The strike has already boosted online video usage. Daily traffic to video sites has doubled in just a year, according to Dec. 2007 figures from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. In the average day, 15 percent of Internet users watch video, up from 8 percent a year ago.

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