CW Networks to double ad loads for online TV episodes

CW Network--the CBS-Times Warner joint venture, which has seen increasing numbers of it audience turn to on line video as a convenience or to catch up on missed episodes--will double ad load on it online videos next year.

The company said it would begin testing consumer tolerance for the loads next month, adding additional spots to breaks in CW programs with a target of 20 30-second spots per hour, the same as its broadcast programming. CW--which targets a younger demographic--has been losing audience and hopes to make hay online, where younger viewers watch more video than any other demo.

"We see that more of our viewers are going online," said Dawn Ostroff, CW's president of entertainment. "Ultimately, I think it's going to continue to spread."

Upping the load is a gamble, and will push run times of programs from 48 minutes up to an hour, which could also cause CW to hemorrhage online video viewers. But CW appears willing to take the risk and has been meeting with advertisers in recent month to gauge their reactions, offering combined web and broadcast packages.

"What they're seeing is that their audience isn't going to necessarily be traditional linear TV viewers," said Donna Speciale, top buyer at Publicis Groupe SA's MediaVest USA. The company will start bumping its online ad buys on CW shows next month. "We're willing to test with them to see what kind of legs this has for the future."

This isn't the first Time Warner property to experiment with bumping ad loads to that of traditional broadcast levels. Its Turner Broadcasting Systems property last November said it would begin doubling ad loads to a full run of 20 30-secord spots per hour on shows like TNT'S "The Closer."

Cox Communications last year surveyed viewers who watched "The Office" on VOD and found most didn't mind watching the same number of ads as had run when the show was broadcast.

Similarly, comScore this week said online video viewers had no compunction with watching ad loads double the current number shown on sites like Hule and network broadcaster sites.

For more:
- see this WSJ article

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