Striking back at the ability of viewers to skip commercials via personal video recorders likeTiVO, a new WB variety show will build the commercials in:
- A leading television producer and two major advertisers have joined forces to present a live variety show with no commercial interruptions. Instead, the advertising messages will be incorporated into the show.
The advertisers, which so far include Pepsi and Nokia phones, are buying six hours of air time to create what the program’s producer, Michael Davies, called “a contemporary, hip Ed Sullivan show” for the youth-oriented WB Network, part of AOL Time Warner. The hourlong program, to be broadcast for six weeks this summer, will try to highlight the companies’ products in various ways, like putting singers on a set dominated by a logo or building comedy routines around a product.
The experiment reflects growing anxiety among many advertisers and network executives about the rise of personal video recorders, like TiVo’s, which make it easy for viewers to skip commercials. Although the network commercial is far from extinct — advertising spending increased for television in the last year — many executives are concerned that a decline in the effectiveness of the 30-second commercial could rock the economic foundation of broadcast television, which depends on advertising as its main source of revenue.
The show is already drawing wide attention in the television industry. The idea has been given credibility because Mr. Davies, a native of Britain, produced ABC’s landmark “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” the program that started the reality television craze in the United States and changed the face of prime time. [NY Times]
I can picture Ed McMahon doing live ads on the old Tonight Show: back to he future.