Does ABC really believe in what it’s doing?

Here’s a remarkable note from an AdAge panel — The Upfront Conversation — this morning as reported by Steve Rubel.

I asked the panel where digital fits into this mix. For example, how do emerging new channels like ABC’s effort to put shows online fit into the upfront (which is when most TV time is sold)?

…Surprisingly, Mike Shaw, President of Sales and Marketing for ABC, went straight for the numbers of people watching video online. He said they were too small in relation to the mother ship. He dismissed the significance of these new platforms because of the numbers. This is despite ABC’s lead in testing new channels. He said that streaming video and other online viewing platforms “are not scalable.”

..It struck me during the panel discussion that the TV networks — despite their recent initiatives — still do not live in a long tail world. They’re largely focused on reaching mass audiences. Shaw’s comments indicates that the nets are not seeing an opportunity to augment their huge reach by using the Web to help marketers build a deeper level of engagement with select slices of micro audiences who tell the larger group what to watch.

The marketers, meanwhile, are far along in their “getting it.”

So, if the head of Sales and Marketing for ABC doesn’t fully embrace the new digital strategies his network is embracing, why do them? Not scalable? Such a dangerous belief. Broadband video may never be the one-to-many dream that broadcasters, like Mr. Shaw, want it to be, but that never has been its point.

Of course, Mr. Shaw may simply be positioning himself to deal with advertisers for the forthcoming upfront, which is what this discussion was all about in the first place. After all, who, when selling $10,000 spots, wants to admit the validity of $100 spots?


  1. We tend to assume that anyone dipping their toe in the Web waters is diving in head first. They’re not.

    ABC’s initiatives are only bold in comparison to everyone else still huddled on shore with their lifejackets and water wings. Of course they don’t consider the internet to be a big deal. They’re terrified enough to try something, but they haven’t really woken up to reality yet, and thus have no idea what’s really happening.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.