Developments In TV Advertising Conceivably Could Benefit Newspapers
The decision on the part of the big networks to market their programs on a new basis, allowing viewers to buy separate programs for fairly nominal amounts and view them at home or while traveling at times of their own choosing could, Time magazine and other media speculated last week, have an adverse long range effect on television sales of advertising.
The two-page Time article on Pages 71 and 72 of the Nov. 28 issue, out last week, was entitled, "Wanna Buy A Slice of Sitcom -- Selling Episodes on cable, online and on iPods, the networks change the race -- and price of prime time."
While observing this could have several effects, the magazine noted that "Madison Avenue -- which, with more viewers using digital video recorders like TiVo to skip commercials, is already threatening to pull money from TV and put it into other media."
It goes without saying that if millions of viewers find a way to buy their way out of TV commercials by buying DVDs, just like theatre audiences have dipped with the availability of cheap DVDs, then it could turn out that newspaper and magazine advertising would rise. One advantage of the newspapers is that the ads are right there to be seen at all times by all readers. Barring throwing away advertising pages, most readers will see them, repeatedly.
This could be one reason why Lehman Bros. last week opined in a report to shareholders that the lackluster Tribune Co., could be selling short its prospects, underestimating future revenue, when it proceeds with the layoffs at its newspapers. Maybe, things will turn around for newspapers, and the Tribune, filled with executives who aren't all that sharp, will be caught unprepared.
One factor is that newspapers are often sold disproportionately, particularly the big national papers like the New York Times, to high-income elite readers. If these people perhaps are even more prone than others to buy their own commercial-free TV programs, won't they again become more apt to see newspaper and magazine ads than the old TV ads?
Time's article is cautious, noting that no one can foresee exactly the changes that are in store in the way advertising is viewed.
But, it concludes, "When TV shows become something you order at whim from a cable box, or take on a plane, or carry in your pocket, what is TV? What is a network? After all, the networks, with their vast mid-century distribution systems,are in essence simply conduits for delivering programming from producers to viewers. Could the nets end up making their brands irrelevant?"
In short, even if the networks, like the movie studios, are careful, they are opening things up. They may make new millions selling their DVDs. But they may inadvertently help the print media to sell more ads in the process.