Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Web's Niche TV Programs Win Sponsors

Terrific article in today's WSJ targeting the long tail of programming that is popping up on the web and the small, but engaged audiences they are reaching. Two of my favorites are mentioned in this article, Wallstrip and NextNewNetworks, and how they are extremely flexible to support their partners so as to find a revenue model. Most notable, the use of in program product placement and editorial content extolling the value of the advertised brand.

Is this a good thing? Obviously, the need to find a revenue model that supports the costs of these "niche" channels is essential. But is editorial and/or entertainment standards being lowered to advance the cause of the ad model. And the fact that these channels are not yet reaching a scalable size to make a big dent, will this collaborative approach lead to more awareness and eyeballs to the channel. That is to say, perhaps the advertising drives brand recognition. As articles such as these appear, more people are learning that these channels exist. Channels like Wallstrip, with the powerful CBS brand behind it, has more potential through synergy with its parent and deep pockets to bankroll its growth.

I will say this, these niche channels are very entertaining and their key to survival is a growing audience and a sustainable revenue model. The long tail of programming can incubate many terrific ideas, but as history proves, reach and ratings do matter. Programming costs money and someone has to pay; and advertisers seek identifiable returns to keep investing their marketing budgets in this long tail of entertainment opportunities. I wish them well and I personally will keep watching!