We've been critical of the approach TV networks have taken to dealing with technologies such as the DVR. Instead of acknowledging that they improve the TV experience, and then looking for a creative solution, they've usually let their legal teams guide their strategy. But now the networks have a new complaint, which is a little more interesting. They allege that Flying J truck stops block out commercials on their TVs, and then replace them with their own ads, which are more targeted to truckers. This isn't a matter of simply blocking commercials, but of repurposing broadcast content for their own profit. Though Flying J is a pretty small player, it could be become a bigger issue for the networks if hotels, for example, started using the same technology. What's interesting though is that it makes sense to serve ads about trucking to truckers. Allowing establishments to sell their own ads based on their clientele could improve the efficiency of the overall ad market. Though previous attempts at customized advertising have been dissapointments, the idea isn't necessarily flawed -- one only needs to look at the difference between ads served on Spike TV and the Oxygen Network. If the networks were smart (don't laugh), they'll look to exploit this regardless of how the legal events unfold. Otherwise, the broadcast model will continue to crumble in the face of disruptive technologies.
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