You are not a viewer, you are a consumer. For proof, see the chart at the bottom of CanWest Media Sales’ Gilmore Girls info page.
I guess we all knew that already, but having it powerpointed out like this is a splash of cold water to the face. (If you’re ready for more disenchantment, check out the similar but male-oriented data for The Simpsons.)
The saddest part is, I’m sure there is a market for direct sales of TV programming. The success of DVD sets of various TV shows proves that. I agree with many things in Mark Pesce’s hyperdistribution lecture, but I don’t like the idea of advertising “bugs” cluttering up the onscreen image, and I think their effectiveness is very limited– unless you’re going to shit all over the screen like FOX does with their obnoxious, animated “bottom third” banner ads, you can only present one piece of information in a “bug,” probably a logo. If you’re Nike or McDonald’s, that’s great, but if you’re Nike or McDonald’s, you don’t really need any more advertising. It’s the smaller advertisers that will suffer, the businesses who can’t afford multi-million-dollar national campaigns. Any real solution has to address the long tail.
I don’t have the answer, either. Maybe it’ll be search advertising: when programming is no longer artificially segmented into “channels,” we’ll need a better way to find the shows we want to watch. But whatever the answer is, we need to be willing to try many schemes– and fail at most of them– before finding it. The only way to test this is on the open market.
Mark my words, the era of using television to sell soap is coming to an end.