Monday, June 15, 2009

Hard Liquor On Broadcast

The car and financial services industries are hurting and the broadcast ad dollar is declining so where to go to find new sources of revenue. Where hard liquor was once a no no on broadcast, now its ad budget is as green as anyone elses. "This year, with network advertising revenue off about $250 million, or 4.2 percent, in the first quarter compared to last year, local affiliates are not only accepting hard liquor ads -- they are actively courting the $451 million distilled-spirits advertising business." Watch Simpsons and drink Chivas!

So what's next. Will we once again allow cigarette ads to appear on TV. Perhaps its time for a Lucky Strike! Cause when it comes to greed, anything goes. What happened to the ethical issues that banned hard spirits the first time. Some might argue that the ban was a voluntary one and that cable nets have been advertising hard liquor for a while. Still allowing spirits to advertise on TV simply brings us further down that slippery slope. Perhaps the ad guidelines for TV networks should be ... ANYTHING GOES!

My Cable Networks Are Losing Their Niches

I can appreciate change and I certainly understand that cable networks must continue to evolve in order to grow ratings, viewership, ad dollars, and of course total revenue. At the same time, each should stay true to their core mission or else they all simply start looking like each other. I make this statement because I recently saw an ad announcing that Cartoon Network will have non-animation, reality programming. Yikes! Does that mean that they will change their name to Cartoon and Live Action Network? Certainly it is not a first as they have shown non-animation films on their channel. It may be by, about, and for kids, bit it is not their core mission - cartoons. And why is it being done, broader demographic reach, bigger ratings, more advertising.

But I don't want to put the blame down on Cartoon; truth is, other cable networks have done the same thing, gone outside their core programming genre:

TV Land - theatrical movies
AMC - Modern movies and original TV series
A&E - syndicated TV series
CNBC - repeats of Deal or No Deal and other shows
TLC - reality (non learning) TV shows

The list goes on and on. Each cable network has broadened its niche so that the network today looks nothing like the network of 5 -10 years ago. For example, Bravo went from classical arts to pop art.

Is this a good or bad thing. That is not for me to decide. Clearly, ratings of each of these networks have improved as well over this same period. Broad programming will have more appeal over niche. It is just that cable programmings appeal was that it could provide the niche programming that broadcast lacked. Now, cable has become the new broadcast network source. And where do the niches go now for content; for the moment, that would be the web.