AOL Move Supports Klopfenstein Theory

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Perhaps AOL should have read my blog sooner. As I will continue to write, Americans are used to making a trade: subsidized content in exchange for exposure to ads. If you see some of the clever ways web sites are coming up with, especially in the last 6-8 months, you will be amazed to see what viewers will put up with by way of advertising in exchange for "free" content.

As a related aside, the minutes used by cable networks such as TBS, A&E, and most mainstream cable networks is almost mind-boggling. I have what I call the "flu test." Let's say a favorite move of yours airs on TBS and it's actual running time is 1 hour, 17 minutes. In all liklihood, it will take 2 hours to run on TBS or one oc its competitors. Ironically, I am not familiar with any published research on this. If anyone has, please drop me a line, I will post it here, an give you the credit (unless you don't want it). Oh, the flu test implies you have the TV on while quite sick, you don't change the channel with the remote, and you first notice just how many comercials you are seeing.

There is reseach that shows audience members will not put up with EVERYTHING, but American audiences are conditioned to expect advertising. Having said this, in discussions I've had with members and observers of the cable industry, they are aware that they are oversaturating their content with advertising. The question to me, (c) 2006 Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein, is when will a channel like National Geographic or any other hold themselves to, say, 8 minutes of commercials an hour, advertise it the way radio stations do, and gain loyal viewers who would be just as happy watching a show about volcanos on National Geographic than, say, one on the last ice age on the similarly commercially bloated Discovery channel.

There is a simple economic model that I would hypothesize is in operation here: the law of diminishing returns. Starting with a channel like Turner Classic Movies with no commercials (some limited promotions), and then add commercial time in 30 second increments. Initially, audiences would be very tolerant. By the time we reach 10 minutes of commercials, for example, we may start to lose audience (if only to channel surfing during commercials with no return to TCM). Adding incremental 30 second commercials beyond 10 minutes will start to take its toll. Perhaps by 25 minutes of commercials, 85% of the audience will leave TCM and not return.

If you have any citations on such research, email it and I will give you credit if you wish it.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


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