You Don't Win Fans By Limiting How They Enjoy Your Content

from the backwards-thinking dept

The CW television network, which is the massively struggling television network that was formed when the already massively struggling The WB and UPN merged seems to have a rather bizarre way of trying to get more viewers. It's making life more annoying for them. The channel's one popular show is apparently a show called Gossip Girl, which has a bunch of online tie-ins, considering that one of the main characters is an anonymous blogger. CW has been streaming the shows online, which found a big audience, as its target market likes to consume plenty of content online. The only problem? Advertisers aren't paying as much online, so the channel has decided to stop streaming it online, telling fans to watch it on TV instead. It's not hard to understand why this will fail. First of all, they're giving fans of the show fewer options in terms of how to watch it and they're taking away the preferred option. That's not exactly a way to win fans. The fans who really like watching it online will continue to do so, of course, but now they'll do it via BitTorrent or some other system, which the CW gets no revenue from. This isn't a captive audience that we're talking about here. If the channel makes it that much harder to actually watch the content, they'll move on to other content that actually caters to what they want. It's yet another attempt to force artificial scarcity where there is none, and in this day and age, that's not going to win fans. It's going to lose them.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 6:33pm

    Wow

    Bad. Just bad.

     

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  2.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 7:23pm

    Irritating your customers is never

    a _GOOD_ long term business plan.

    Nor does it make for good government, good parenting, good grades or a good life.

    Customer Dis-Service;
    We are not satisfied until you are not satisfied.
    despair.com

     

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  3.  
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    GG is a guilty pleasure, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 7:33pm

    Good idea

    Actually, I think this is a good idea. The show has already been renewed for next season, so viewer numbers don't matter for that. It already has a large (well, large for the CW), tech-savy following who will, as you point out, continue to watch it one way or another. By not streaming the last 4 episodes, this is a great opportunity to prove/disprove your theories. If TV viewship stays the same, then either the audience is watching it elsewhere or just not watching it at all (you'd need bittorrent download numbers to be sure), but if TV viewership increases, then the streams really are cannabalizing TV revenues rather than providing additional revenue. Even the CW says this is an experiment to see what happens.

     

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    Todd, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 8:11pm

    "The channel's one popular show is apparently a show called Gossip Girl"

    I think Smallville is fairly popular, too.

     

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    Just a coward, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 8:04am

    Um... the show is paid for by advertising dollars, so what's wrong with the company trying to maximize that? There are always going to be customers/consumers that won't add any revenue to a company's bottom line (eg. people that download music not to preview it, but solely as an alternative to buying it). It doesn't strike me as smart to try and cater to these people if a company doesn't benefit monetarily from them, especially in this case where catering to them is actually hurting. Yeah, maybe a million people watch the show online, but if CW can make more money off the 100k that actually watch it on TV because advertisers will pay more, that doesn't sound all that dumb. People are going to watch the show online whether or not CW is supplying authorized versions of the show, but I've yet to hear of a situation where advertisers are paying less because a show is widely pirated online. Advertisers pay according to the shows TV rating, so anything done to increase that rating makes money for the show. Isn't CW's actions here a recognition of what market it's in (TV, where ad dollars = profit)?

    You know, there's no reason not to view online viewing, at least at the moment, as a low profit secondary market along the lines of, say, used books. Sure, plenty of people consume this way, but it's not worth the effort for the companies producing these goods to get involved: they're better of letting someone else handle it (like used book stores). If a major publishing house ran it's own used book store and decided to close it because running it was hurting their bottom line, I don't think there'd be a fuss about it. Mike, maybe you'd like to comment on this.

     

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  6.  
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    mdb, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 10:57am

    Fans

    It seems to me that "GG is a guilty pleasure" and "Just a coward" are of the same mindset of the audio distribution companies who did very little to modernize thier own download sales. The idea isn't only to maximize profit which often produces short sighted long term loss of "fans", it is also to please your fans, give them what they want (while adjusting/modernizing your techniques on maximizing profit.
    Jerk around your tech savvy crowd and they get savvy to your greed and become your enemy. They are not a good enemy to have, better to try to keep your fans.

     

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    Haywood, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 7:00pm

    I still can't believe Veronica Mars is gone

    They gave the excuse that it didn't compete with Lost well enough. I for one was a loyal viewer, and couldn't care less about GG. I don't thing anything they can dream up, short of female nude volley ball, could compete with lost.

     

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  8.  
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    Nasch, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Fans

    I agree. I missed the beginning of the new Terminator series, and found I could watch it in high quality with no ads on Fox's web site. IIRC it was about a week behind the broadcast schedule, which is probably how they try to get people to watch it on TV (and it worked in my case, though I skipped the ads on TV anyway). I don't know if they have some way planned to monetize that directly, or if they're just figuring to get more fans by giving them what they want, but either way it helped me to follow the show, and improved my opinion of Fox, both of which can only help them. Not that they care about me specifically I mean, but assuming it does the same for a lot of other people. This isn't just for that show either, they have a lot of their shows you can watch online, maybe even all of them. And now look at me talking about how great they are. See, it works!

     

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    Scogostology, Apr 20th, 2008 @ 3:24am

    You Don't Win Fans By Limiting How They Enjoy

    I don't even know what their name "CW" means. I stopped watching network TV out of boredom. I wonder if there is anyone in America who is still watching their crazy, boring propaganda suffused TV shows, created for dimwits? And why do they repeat the same silly news about crimes, murder, rape, burglary, auto accidents and on and on every few minutes?

     

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  10.  
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    BP, Apr 20th, 2008 @ 5:31am

    True

    >You Don't Win Fans By Limiting How They Enjoy Your Content

    Take Note, Apple!

     

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  11.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 20th, 2008 @ 4:15pm

    Re:

    Um... the show is paid for by advertising dollars, so what's wrong with the company trying to maximize that?

    You don't maximize that by limiting how people can watch it. They have other options and they'll go elsewhere, and your show will have no advertising dollars at all.

    There are always going to be customers/consumers that won't add any revenue to a company's bottom line (eg. people that download music not to preview it, but solely as an alternative to buying it).

    Who said they don't add revenue? These people are the FANS of the show who not only watch it (and the ads that are with it) but also get their friends to watch it and enjoy and bring new fans to the show as well.

    It doesn't strike me as smart to try and cater to these people if a company doesn't benefit monetarily from them,

    Sure, if you think one level out. But think beyond that. THink of how many more fans they might bring to the show as well.

    eah, maybe a million people watch the show online, but if CW can make more money off the 100k that actually watch it on TV because advertisers will pay more, that doesn't sound all that dumb.

    But it does sound dumb if once you take away the million online, the number who watch it on tv drops from 100k to 50k. Doesn't it?

    Advertisers pay according to the shows TV rating, so anything done to increase that rating makes money for the show.

    And how does pissing off all your fans, making it harder to watch the show and become fans of it help increase TV ratings?

    You know, there's no reason not to view online viewing, at least at the moment, as a low profit secondary market along the lines of, say, used books.

    Sure, but look at the research on used books. They are *complementary* goods to the new books market. That is, the presence of used books actually *increases* the value of new books.

    The same is true with online viewing of TV shows. It *increases* viewership on TV, not the other way.

    You're assuming they're substitutes, when the evidence suggests they're complements.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 6:14am

    Re: Good idea

    You assume that even or increasing numbers of TV viewers must be a net-gain. I submit that this is not so. Say 100k watch on TV and 300k watch online; all of these are viewers and all can be monetized. If you kill the online offering, even if TV viewers DOUBLE (to 200k), you've still lost HALF of your viewers.

     

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  13.  
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    James, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 7:47am

    Stupid media companies

    Let them consider their assinine bs, the sooner they go out of business. Perhaps others will appear that learn from the experience and do better.

    Remember.. the best way to punish them, do not buy CDs or DVDs.. let them know they suck, and DRM will not be tolerated.

     

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  14.  
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    mdb, Apr 26th, 2008 @ 8:10pm

    post 13 by James

    You pretty much nailed it James *see post 13

     

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