This NYT article has a surprising revelation at the bottom of page two. Jeff Gaspin, the head of entertainment for NBC two years ago, recently streamed two years of the AMC show “Walking Dead” with his 13 year old son – one episode each night, without ads. But when they went to watch the current season live at prime time, they found the advertisements broke the tension. He said, “I hate to say this to the AMC executives and everybody else in the business, but I will never watch ‘Walking Dead’ live again.”
One estimate from Nielsen indicates that there are 129 million DVR’s in the U.S. that can record and skip over ads. It’s not clear how they are distributed across 115 million households, or how many are used for this purpose, but without a doubt, a large percent of Americans can do it.
The three types of TV viewers:
1) Those who pay for TV programming that avoid advertisements, like HBO and Starz.
2) Those who record programs so they can fast forward over ads.
3) Those who watch ads.
This spawns big problems for advertisers:
- Lower impact from fewer viewers.
- A large population of people that they can’t reach, who could be the very people they want to reach.
- A potential that TV media cannot properly measure the “fast forward” people, leading to inflated costs for placing ads.
What’s the answer? Advertisers will either have to pay people to watch their ads, or they’ll need to make advertisements that people go out of their way to watch.