• CNN is Undermining Its Own Advertisers with New AC360 "Live Webcasts"

    Here's an example of how convoluted broadband's use can be.

    On CNN's AC360 program last night, Anderson Cooper was promoting "live webcasts" with news anchor Erica Hill, which would run during on-air commercial breaks. As explained here, the idea is that CNN viewers can go "behind the scenes" to continue their AC360 experience by watching the live stream on their computers. I dutifully did this and watched Hill and Cooper somewhat mindlessly chatting/flirting for several minutes.

    But wait: if CNN is urging on-air viewers to turn their attention to these "webcasts" during commercial breaks, then that means that CNN is diverting attention from its own on-air advertisers. That undermines CNN's all-important advertiser value proposition. That of course begs the question: is CNN's ad sales team on board with these webcasts? And if so, what are they thinking??

    I guess the argument could be made that CNN believes anyone who would jump online would be multi-tasking, so they'd still have their TV on. Yet at a minimum they'll mute their TV's audio (as I did) to hear the webcast's audio. That means the users' eyes and ears are now focused online instead of on-air.

    CNN has been laudably in the forefront of weaving online technology into their on-air programs. Tune in to anchor Rick Sanchez's show some time and you'll him juggling an orgy of on-air Twittering, Facebook emailing and YouTube video sharing. Cooper too has been relentlessly flogging his AC360.com web site since its recent relaunch.

    That all works, in my opinion. But the "live webcasts" do not. They might work after or before the on air program, but not during. At a time when advertiser relationships are more tenuous than ever due to the rise of DVRs, VOD and broadband, the last thing a network should be doing is undermining their value proposition any further. Someone at CNN no doubt thought, "hey these will be really cool." That may be, but in my opinion, they're not smart business. Broadband should complement existing franchises not undermine them.

    What do you think? Post a comment.