CBS Finds Ads Do Better Than Subscriptions

from the open-the-floodgates dept

Even though TV networks have realized that there’s money to be made from the internet, they’re still trying to figure out the best way forward. There are two main schools of thought: sell access to shows, either downloads or streams, through subscriptions or individual sales; or to put your content online and sell ads around it. We’ve held for a while now that broadcasters have more to gain from taking the ad-supported route, and CBS’ experience with its online broadcast of the NCAA basketball tournament illustrates the point nicely. In years past, CBS has sold out-of-town tournament games on a pay-per-view basis on DirecTV and online, but this year they’ll stream them on the Web for free, and the company says they’ve already booked ads worth more than the subscriber revenues from last year. They’ve also pre-registered nearly 200,000 viewers, compared to the 115,000 or so on the subscription plans last year. So let’s review — more viewers and more revenues from content that’s free to the end user. What’s not to like?

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Comments on “CBS Finds Ads Do Better Than Subscriptions”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Not sure I’d exactly call it “free”. Afterall – I paid for cable TV so I don’t have to deal with Ads. Of course, almost every channel on cable now has just as many Ads as the old public airwaves.

To be honest though, I don’t mind Ads if they are done tacfully. Pop up ads only serve to annoy me. I’ve never bought anything because a pop-up ad comes up to annoy me, actually I get pissed at the company doing it. While I might not keep a log of each one, I may well later not buy from the company because they annoyed me in some fashion (even if I can’t remember how at the time).

The subscriptions are getting out of hand, I admit – like anything you want to do in Entertainment anymore requires some stupid subscription. I have enough monthly obligations, cable’s the only one I’ll pay for – I don’t subscribe to a thing on the web, other than the ISP’s service plan – and that’s quite enough.

So in the end – yeah, if it’s “free” and the ads aren’t too annoying, I’m sure I may well watch it – if I gotta pay for a subscription, I’ll find something else to do.

fluxam says:


Since my time has value, wasting my time by shoveling ads in my eyes and ears is costing me. By what the iTunes store charges for episodes of “Lost” minus ads, we may determine that they value viewer time at about $8.50 per hour.

But, I’ll concede that sports events, at least the American ones which have been designed to provide incessant time-outs — cunningly designed to stuff full of commercials! — are lots different from movies and dramas. In fact, the BBC exploits this difference in maintaining ultra-fast pacing in adless shows like “Hustle” and “Spooks.”

wasabifan says:

Ads can be good

I would prefer ads to a fee. Also, I hope that eventually, they will give me a login that will make my download have ads that I actually care about (instead of broadcast tv spam ads (general market not to my specific interests). If they market targeted ads like this, they will most likely get more money per showing anyway.

lar3ry says:

Build a better ad mechanism...

And somebody will build a better ad-blocker.

That’s the problem with relying on ad revenues on digital media. Some people hate adverts so much that they’ll spend hours working a way around them. There will always be those fanatics.

However, for some things, this could work really nice. For instance:

Pepsi-Cola presents the Latest Britney Spears single! (10 second advert at the start, and a 30 second ad at the end). High sample rate (192), great quality.

Of course, these timings should be different for different singles, so as to avoid people releasing “ad-cutter” programs that will hack off the first 10 and last 30 seconds from an MP3 file.

Make the ads “enjoyable” (funny commercials that people don’t mind seeing again and again), and people will want to keep the adverts in.

Beowulf Schaeffer says:

Ads aren't free

“content that’s free to the end user” overlooks the fact that creating and distributing ads costs money. That cost is added to the manufacturing cost paid by the consumer. If the products didn’t rely on ads the products would be substantially cheaper for everyone.

It’s like when a Mars probe is lost — those millions of bucks aren’t lost in space, they were paid to humans on this planet for products and services as wages which those humans used to purchase other goods and services.

I know economics is supposed to be autistic but not acknowledging the human element is merely a convenient obfuscation.

casual observer says:

Re: Ads aren't free

Beowulf Schaeffer wrote “‘content that’s free to the end user’ overlooks the fact that creating and distributing ads costs money.” It doesn’t matter whether a company is spendin $$ for signs that advertise their shaving cream on route 66 or $$$ for ad time on the superbowl or whatever they spend for online ad time. Companies allocate a budget for advertising/marketing and it doesn’t matter what the current technology is. So the human element seems to be whether end users have to dig out of their already empty pockets for interesting content.

I liked the old techdirt layout better. says:

Offer the old format techdirt and see which is pre

I do not like the new layout of


Because in the old format I could see more posts on one screen

ans could skim faster.

Now you have one smaller column in the middle and

so I read it less.

I am not thinking I will slashdot and instead.

I know that i have only read you 3 time this week – I used read techdirt every day.

If I am the majority you will lose viewers – and influence?

If I ams a minority then

Question: Why not put up tech dirt. com in both

formats and see which people like.

i.e. of

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