Posts for 'NBC'

  • Streaming the Super Bowl is No Big Deal, For Now

    The NFL and NBC garnered a lot of attention yesterday with news that the Super Bowl (along with the Pro Bowl and two Wild Card games) will be streamed online for the first time, and made available to Verizon's mobile subscribers. I'll admit, when I first read the news my reaction was "that's pretty cool!" But when I thought about it for another moment, my feeling changed to "so what's the big deal?" Maybe I'm being a skunk at the picnic, but I'm guessing some of you may have had a similar response. Why?

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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #114 - Sports Rights Fees and OTT

    I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 114th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for Dec. 16, 2011. In today's podcast Colin and I discuss the escalation in sports rights fees, player salaries, sports networks' affiliate fees and pay-TV rates.

    Earlier this week I wrote about the massive, $254 million contract baseball slugger Albert Pujols signed with the Angels and how a new 20-year, $3 billion deal with Fox Sports enabled the team to afford the deal. But that's already old news, because since then the NFL signed $28 billion worth of deals with CBS, Fox and NBC (on top of the $15.2 billion renewal with ESPN agreed to in September), and ESPN forked over another $500 million for broader rights with NCAA.

    Why does all this matter? Because as I've said repeatedly throughout the year, these deals are largely funded by non sports fans, through their ever-higher monthly pay-TV bills. As Colin and I agree, it's an unsustainable trend that's largely being enabled by consumers' ignorance and inertia about what they're paying for. Coincidentally, just today the NY Times has an article on this topic, the first one I've seen from a mainstream newspaper. The  byproduct of escalating pay-TV rates is that they're opening the door for OTT alternatives to thrive. Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (16 minutes, 11 seconds)

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  • So Far Fox is Alone Among Networks With Authenticated Pay-TV Window

    With the fall TV season upon us, Fox is alone among broadcast networks in deciding to create an 8-day authentication window for pay-TV subscribers. In fact, NBC appears to be taking the opposite posture, announcing last Friday that its iPad app would now include all the same episodes that it makes available online (and I've confirmed they'll all be available in the iPad next day as well). CBS hasn't announced any plans to change its distribution through its web site or And despite some vague signals to the contrary by Disney CEO Bob Iger, ABC, which has been the leader among broadcast networks in embracing online/mobile distribution, hasn't announced any changes either.

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  • Scarcity Breeds Aggregation Opportunities

    Following is a guest post from Sam Vasisht, president of 21TechMedia which specializes in advisory services, business and marketing consulting for digital media companies. Sam was previously VP of Marketing at On2 Technologies, now part of Google's WebM initiative. He blogs at and can be followed on Twitter @21TechMedia.

    Scarcity Breeds Aggregation Opportunities

    by Sam Vasisht

    Based on news from the world of online video over the past few weeks, the dust is starting to settle on a number of topics that had been contentious, if not controversial for some time.  Among them is the affirmation of online services as a bona fide monetization model for major media.  This was stated by Viacom on its earnings call two weeks ago.  Similar signals from other corners of the industry range across Netflix's price increases in its continuing quest for premium content licensing; Amazon stepping up its game in video streaming with a licensing deal with NBC and a few weeks earlier with CBS; and Hulu attaching attractive 5 year content licenses with its rumored sale offer while signing up additional content deals as well. 

    The race for content aggregation is on.      

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  • Hulu Also Making Move Into Original Video Production

    While Netflix got a lot of attention this week for possibly moving to distribute an original TV series, "House of Cards," an interesting scoop in Adweek notes that Hulu may also be looking to ramp up its original production efforts. According to the article, Hulu has been building two content groups, one focused on branded entertainment and the other on niche comedy and documentaries.

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  • NBC Testing Super Bowl Ad Rates of $3.5M Per 30-Second Spot

    A report this week in AdAge indicated that NBC, which has the broadcast rights to next year's Super Bowl XLVI, is testing advertiser reaction to a rates of up to $3.5 million per certain 30-second ads. This would be a bump from this past year's rates of $2.8-$3.0 million and would easily be the most expensive ad time in history. However, the potential increase was not only predictable, I think it's actually just the start of a significant run up yet to come.

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  • No Surprise, Ivi is Shut Down

    Broadcasters got a win this week as a U.S. District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against Ivi, requiring the service be shut down. The decision comes as little surprise, as Ivi's claim to being a cable system, and therefore entitled to a compulsory license to rebroadcast TV networks, seemed specious from the start. Though Ivi vows to appeal the decision, casting itself as consumers' savior, there's little reason to believe we'll see Ivi - at least in its current form - back any time soon. Moral here: just because the Internet makes it possible to rebroadcast networks, that still doesn't make it legal.
  • Amazon Prime Instant Streaming Launches; Not a Netflix-Killer (Yet Anyway)

    Amazon is announcing this morning that it has added streaming access to 5,000 movies and TV shows to the package of benefits its "Prime" members get, for no extra charge as part of their $79/year subscription. Amazon is offering a one month free trial to Prime to let new users test it out. The move had been widely rumored and of course the first company that comes to mind as being in the cross-hairs of Prime's streaming is Netflix. Those competitive concerns are legitimate, but for now, Prime isn't close to being a Netflix-killer.

    The big Achilles heel of Prime is content selection. Though 5,000 titles sounds like a lot, it won't take long for experienced Netflix users tempted by a switch to Prime to recognize that most of these titles are already available on Netflix streaming as well. I did a quick comparison of 20 randomly-selected titles on Prime and found that with the exception of a few BBC Shakespeare titles and certain episodes of the PBS series "American Experience," everything on Prime is already available on Netflix streaming. In fact, for now Prime relies heavily on British programming and PBS. Though both provide quality productions, they are far from mainstream popularity in the U.S.

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  • Hulu Pulls IPO Due to Lack of Long-Term Content Rights

    The WSJ is reporting that Hulu has pulled its widely-rumored plan for an initial public offering next year due to lack of long-term rights to distribute its three broadcast TV network owners' content. The WSJ says the company may look at other options to raise capital. Hulu's exclusive short-term distribution deals with owners ABC, FOX and NBC are the company's primary asset, and no doubt banks and other would-be investors closely scrutinized whether the rights would be extended.

    As I wrote last April, from a content rights perspective, Hulu is getting squeezed from all sides. Pay-TV providers are ramping up their TV Everywhere rollouts and are trying to lock down online distribution rights themselves, sometimes as part of retransmission consent deals. The NBC rights in particular are subject to extra uncertainty longer-term as Comcast takes over the network. As the biggest subscription TV provider, which is rolling out its own online capabilities, Comcast has little incentive to support an online competitor.

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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #80 - Nov. 19, 2010

    Daisy Whitney and I are back this week for the 80th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for November 19, 2010. Before getting started, congratulations to Daisy on the release of "The Mockingbirds," her first fiction book, for young adult readers. It debuted 2 weeks ago and is published by Little Brown. In addition to writing the book, Daisy has put together a clever social media campaign which has lifted the book's visibility. Congrats Daisy!

    This week Daisy and I discuss my post from yesterday, "Broadcast TV Networks Are Wrong to Block Google TV - Part 2" in which I laid out the case for why the networks are using a backwards-looking strategy in their decision to block their programs from access by Google TV and other browser-based connected devices.

    To their credit, the networks have actually been quite forward-looking in releasing many of their programs for free viewing on their web sites and on Hulu. But now, by creating an artificial distinction between computer-based and TV-based viewing of online-delivered content, they are violating one of the most basic rules of the Internet era: don't create friction between the product and the customer. While that may help them win retransmission consent deals in the short term, I believe that in the long term it will hurt them. Listen in to learn more.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (11 minutes, 43 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    The VideoNuze Report is available in iTunes...subscribe today!
  • Broadcast TV Networks Are Wrong to Block Google TV - Part 2

    When Fox decided last week to block access to its programs by Google TV, it was no big surprise since its broadcast brethren ABC, CBS, NBC and Hulu had already done so. By speaking in a unanimous voice, the broadcasters have sent a clear signal that viewing their programs on TV, for free, via online delivery, is not to be. While they're happy to make Hulu Plus subscriptions available via connected devices, if you want to watch for free, you'll be restricted to computer, or limited mobile device-based, viewing.

    A few weeks ago in the first part of "Broadcast Networks Are Wrong to Block Google TV," I speculated on what was motivating the broadcasters to block Google TV, boxee and other browser-based connected devices. In the case of Google TV, it's tempting to believe they are looking to extract payments from Google to distribute their programs. Another possible explanation is that programs aren't monetized as well in online as they are on-air (the "swapping analog dollars for digital pennies" argument). Yet another explanation is that measurement of online viewing is not yet fully mature, so they're worried that if their audience shifts to connected device-based viewing, it would hurt their ratings points, and consequently their ad revenues. But none of these are broadcasters' main motivation.

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  • Is the Comcast Lion Finally Set to Roar In Online Video?

    Yesterday Comcast announced that it has taken the "beta" label off its Xfinity TV ("XFTV" as I call it) premium online video service and opened it up to all video subscribers (dropping the requirement that XFTV users need to also be Comcast broadband subscribers). Comcast also unveiled new remote DVR scheduling and search/personalization features, and touted that it now offers 150,000 content "choices" in XFTV.

    Though none of yesterday's individual moves are that significant in and of themselves, after chatting with a spokesperson at Comcast and talking with others in the industry, I think what matters more is that Comcast is signaling the start of an aggressive push into online video distribution. That's worth noting because with NBCU's assets soon to be under its roof, a newfound assertiveness in online video could have profound implications in the video ecosystem. Here are a handful of potential items to watch for:

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  • Broadcast TV Networks Are Wrong to Block Google TV

    Since word broke late last week that ABC, CBS and NBC are blocking access by Google TV to their full-length programs, I've been scouring the web and  speaking to colleagues, attempting to get some insights about what's going on here. Though I've heard plenty of free-floating concerns raised, I've yet to really understand solid reasons for why broadcast networks are doing this that can't be addressed somehow. Therefore, as best I can tell, for now at least, I think the broadcast TV networks are wrong to block access.

    The most obvious reason is that they're creating a false and meaningless distinction between screens. Whereas you can "go online" and freely access plenty of ABC, CBS and NBC shows at their own web sites, (and at Hulu for ABC and NBC), the networks have decided that if you're trying to "go online" via your Google TV, that's unacceptable. In an age where computer screens are getting bigger all the time - looking more like TVs - why exactly should this distinction matter?

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  • 6 Items of Interest for the Week of Oct. 18th

    It was another busy week for online/mobile video, and so VideoNuze is continuing its Friday practice of curating 5-6 interesting industry news items that we weren't able to cover this week. Read them now or take them with you this weekend!

    Networks block Google TV to protect themselves
    Yesterday news started breaking that ABC, CBS and NBC are blocking access by Google TV. There are numerous concerns being cited - potential disruption of advertising, encouraging cord-cutting, incenting piracy, diminished branding, unsatisfactory ad splits with Google, and general worry about Google invading the living room. Each item on its own is probably not enough to motivate the blocking action, but taken together they are. Still, doesn't it feel a little foolish that broadcasters would differentiate between a computer screen and a TV screen like this? For Google, it's more evidence that nothing comes easy when trying to work with Hollywood. I'm trying to find out more about what's happening behind the scenes.

    TWC Lines Up For ESPN Online Kick
    An important milestone for TV Everywhere may come as early as next Monday, as #2 cable operator Time Warner is planning to make ESPN viewing available online to paying subscribers. Remote access is part of the recent and larger retransmission consent deal between Disney and TWC. TV Everywhere initiatives have been slow to roll out, amid cable programmers' reluctance.  Further proving that remote authenticated access works and that it's attractive with a big name like ESPN would increase TV Everywhere's momentum.

    Hulu Plus, Take Two: How's $4.95 a Month?
    Rumors are swirling that Hulu may cut the price of its nascent Hulu Plus subscription service in half, to $4.95/mo. That would be a tacit recognition of Hulu Plus's minimal value proposition, largely due to its skimpy content offering. As I initially reported in August, over 88% of Hulu Plus content is available for free on More important, Netflix's streaming gains have really marginalized Hulu Plus. Netflix's far greater resources and subscriber base have enabled it to spend far bigger on content acquisition. Even at $4.95, I continue to see Hulu Plus as an underwhelming proposition in an increasingly noisy landscape.

    Viacom Hires Superstar Lawyer to Handle YouTube Appeal
    Viacom is showing no signs of giving up on its years-long copyright infringement litigation against Google and YouTube. This week the company retained Theodore Olson, a high-profile appellate and Supreme Court specialist to handle its appeal. While most of the world has moved on and is trying to figure out how to benefit from YouTube's massive scale, Viacom charges on in court.

    Verizon to sell Galaxy Tab starting November 11th for $599.99
    Verizon is determined to play its part in the tablet computer craze, this week announcing with Samsung that it will sell the latter's new "Tab" tablet for $600 beginning on November 11th. The move follows last week's announcement by Verizon that it will begin selling the iPad on Oct. 28th, which was widely interpreted as the first step toward Verizon offering the iPhone early next year. Apple currently owns the tablet market, and it remains to be seen whether newcomers like the Tab can break through. For his part, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said on Apple's earnings call this week that all other tablets are "dead on arrival." Note, if you want to see the "Tab" and learn more about how connected and mobile devices are transforming the video landscape, come to the VideoSchmooze breakfast at the Samsung Experience on Wed., Dec. 1st.

    One-Third of US Adults Skip Live TV: Report
    A fascinating new study from Say Media (the entity formed from the recent merger of VideoEgg and Six Apart), suggesting that 56 million, or one-third of adult Internet users, have reduced their live TV viewership. The research identified 2 categories: "Opt Outs" (22 million) who don't own a TV or haven't watched TV in the last week and stream more than 4 hours/week, and "On Demanders" (34 million) who also stream more than 4 hours/week and report watching less live TV than they did a year ago. Not surprisingly, relative to Internet users as a whole, both Opt Outs and On Demanders skew younger and higher educated, though only the latter had higher income than the average Internet user. This type of research is important because the size of both the ad-supported and paid markets for live, first-run TV is far larger than catalog viewing. To the extent its appeal is diminishing as this study suggests poses big problems for everyone in the video ecosystem.

  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Sept. 27th

    It's Friday and that means that once again VideoNuze is featuring 5-6 interesting online/mobile video industry stories that we weren't able to cover this week. Have a look at them now, or take them with you for weekend reading!

    Nielsen Unveils New Online Advertising Measurement
    comScore Introduces Digital GRP `Overnights` in AdEffx Campaign Essential
    Dueling initiatives from Nielsen and comScore were announced on Monday, aimed at translating online usage into comparable TV ratings information, including reach, frequency and Gross Ratings Points (GRPs). While online video ad buying is ramping up, the tools to measure viewership in a comprehensive way have been lacking. This is one of the main issues holding back content providers from participating in TV Everywhere. 

    Analyst: Cord-cutting fears overblown
    New research shared this week by BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield concludes that less than 8% of the market is actually interested in cord-cutting. The big impediment: losing access to sports and cable programming, which is unlikely to migrate to free over-the-top alternatives. Greenfield's conclusion is that cord-cutting isn't a major threat to pay-TV operators over the next 3-5 years. Notwithstanding the research, another factor I'd point to that could tip cord-cutting the other way is consumers' belt-tightening. Much as nobody wants to lose access to programming, if the price is perceived as too high, they'll make compromises.

    Why YouTube Viewers Have ADD and How to Stop It
    Abandonment rates for online video have always been a concern, and using new research, Visible Measures CMO Matt Cutler now quantifies the behavior. Expect 20% of the audience to drop out within 10 seconds of hitting play, 33% by the 30 second mark and 44% by 60 seconds in. Pretty sobering data but incredibly important in thinking about content creation and monetization.

    Networks Have Sharing Issues With Hulu
    Hulu's New Hoop
    On the one hand, Hulu's network partners, ABC, NBC and Fox are reportedly pulling back ad inventory that Hulu is allowed to sell, yet on the other, Hulu is reportedly out aggressively selling ads in Hulu Plus, its subscription service. Meanwhile this week Hulu also announced that Hulu Plus will be accessible on both Roku devices and TiVo Premiere, as it continues chasing Netflix in the subscription game.

    The New Apple TV Reviewed: It`s All About the Video
    Apple TV devices started shipping this week, and reviews began popping up all over the web. This mostly positive review indicates that the user experience is solid, but that content selection is still skimpy. That's no surprise given how few deals Apple has struck to date. Yet to be seen is how Apple TV performs when it can access other iOS apps.
  • Over 88% of Hulu Plus Content is Already Available for Free on

    A new analysis of all the content available on Hulu Plus reveals that over 88% of all the full-length TV program episodes available in the $10/mo subscription service are already freely accessible on For clips, it's almost 98%. Research firm One Touch Intelligence found that out of 28K+ episodes on Hulu Plus, just 3,345 of them can't also found on Two-thirds of these incremental program episodes are sourced from Hulu's broadcast TV network partners/owners, ABC, Fox and NBC.

    In fairness, Hulu Plus has been live for less than 60 days and will no doubt will be adding more content down the road. But for now the high proportion of free availability diminishes the Hulu Plus value proposition for users considering an upgrade. In addition, the relatively small amount of incremental episodes risks inducing churn, particularly for heavy users most familiar with the service, as they come to realize much of what they've paid to watch is actually available for free. Compounding the problem, Hulu Plus viewers see the same quantity of ads as do free users, so there's no ad-avoidance benefit to subscribing either.

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  • For Broadcast TV Networks, Google TV is Friend, Not Foe

    Reading this morning's WSJ story, "Google TV Is a Tough Sell Among Would-Be Partners," you get the impression that broadcast TV networks are viewing Google TV as a potential disruptor of their business models. While the networks should take time to fully understand Google's new product, plus assess additional work being asked of them (e.g. enhanced metadata) and how their programs will be incorporated in Google TV's UI, on the whole, broadcast TV networks should view Google TV as beneficial, not disruptive, to their digital distribution efforts.

    Broadcast networks are right to be concerned about what effect viewing on any new digital device will have on their on-air business models. I've written often about my concern that the networks' web sites and Hulu's "ad-lite" approach was threatening to their on-air economics. However, more recently the networks (and likely Hulu) have been increasing their digital ad loads. ABC for one has said that digital delivery profitability is already on a par with "DVR economics" (accounting for ad-skipping by DVR households), and more ads will only further enhance digital's ROI. Certainly ABC's decision to make its programs available on the iPad is evidence that proper monetization, along with a coherent windowing approach, can yield incremental views and profits from distribution to new devices.

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  • Sports Continues to be Shining Star of Online Video

    The final and streaming viewership numbers for the FIFA World Cup provide the latest evidence that sports are the shining star of the online video world for both free and paid viewing. Here's some sample data for recent free online sporting events:

    FIFA World Cup: (7.4 million unique viewers, 15.7 million hours viewed), (10 million hours viewed)

    2010 NCAA March Madness: (8.3 million unique visits to MMOD video player, 11.7 million hours of video and audio)

    2009-2010 Sunday Night Football: (2.2 million unique visits, 1M hours viewed, 29 minutes of average tune-in time)

    2008 Beijing Summer Olympics: (70 million video streams, 10 million hours viewed, 27 minutes of average tune-in time)

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  • 7 Quick Reactions to Hulu Plus

    Hulu unveiled its much-rumored subscription service this afternoon, dubbed "Hulu Plus." I haven't used the new service, but based on the explanation and the teaser video, here are 7 quick reactions:

    1. Is there consumer demand for Hulu Plus? - This looms as the fundamental question that will be answered as Hulu Plus rolls out. From CEO Jason Kilar's blog post, it appears that, at least initially, Hulu Plus is a bet on consumers having an appetite for a library of broadcast network programs since that's all that's been highlighted so far. Hulu identifies about 2,000 library episodes in addition to current seasons. Unless Hulu Plus really beefs up its catalog, it won't be long before the library holds few surprises for returning visitors.

    2. Hulu Plus lacks many of Netflix's advantages - It's tempting to think of Hulu Plus competing directly with Netflix, and to an extent of course they're after the same general target consumer. But Netflix has several very significant advantages: a brand that's identified with subscriptions and 14 million+ currently paying subscribers, a deep DVD library of 100,000+ titles (which has every single episode Hulu Plus will be offering), a streaming library of 17,000+ titles (offered at no extra cost to subscribers) and integrations with all the same devices Hulu Plus is touting (except the iPhone, which is coming soon). Further, Netflix has far deeper resources; it is a public company with a $6 billion market cap that spends $250 million/year on marketing and has publicly-stated commitment to obtain more streaming rights from Hollywood. With Netflix on one side and cable on another, it's unclear how Hulu Plus will expand its menu. I don't see Hulu Plus diminishing Netflix's rapid growth.

    3. Ads in Hulu Plus would be a big-time buzz-kill - I did a double-take when I first read this line in Jason's post: "Hulu Plus is a new revolutionary, ad-supported subscription product that is incremental and complementary to the existing Hulu service." Whoa - are there going to be ads in Hulu Plus? That will be a flat-out non-starter for many prospective subscribers. Yes, I know about ad-supported cable networks, but that's for first-run programming, not for library or catch-up fare. Hulu Plus must be an ad-free zone. Meanwhile, it's important that Hulu still prove the 100% ad-supported business model for its existing experience. With much in flux regarding ad loads there's new messaging Hulu will likely be rolling there too.

    4. Why wasn't Android or Google TV mentioned? - Is it a little weird that there was no mention of Android or Google TV in today's unveiling? I think so. Android is fast-gaining on the iPhone (surpassed by some metrics) and Google TV is poised to make a big splash in the fall. Why no mention? Is there an anti-Google bias at work?

    5. Hulu Plus adds more support for HTML5 - Hulu Plus is another boost for HTML5 and another small dent for Flash. By making Hulu Plus available on non-Flash supported Apple devices, the it seems the Hulu team has been willing to make the investment to diversify beyond Flash, which it has used since launch.

    6. Comcast must already be considering how it exits the Hulu joint venture - When the Comcast-NBCU deal clears, Comcast will inherit NBCU's ownership stake in Hulu. With Hulu Plus it's hard to see why Comcast will want to retain that stake. There's no discernible benefit to Comcast owning a minority position in a new over-the-top subscription service that whets the appetite of potential cord-cutters. It's one thing for selective NBC programs to be freely available for catch-up on, but a deeper library in a paid subscription service? No way, especially not as Comcast is trying to build value in its own TV Everywhere service.

    7. Hulu gets credit for a well-executed launch - Stepping back, the Hulu team deserves credit for keeping its subscription under tight wraps and executing a solid launch. There have been no shortage of rumors, but to my knowledge there haven't been any specifically identifiable leaks in the Hulu ship. That's a big accomplishment, especially when you consider how many people must have had knowledge of the plans. The launch includes a well-articulated CEO message, a nicely-done sizzle reel (that is in Flash, which makes it not viewable on the iPad or iPhone!), several device integrations and a roadmap of add-ons, and a slow-rollout plan that will generate excitement among early adopters.

    There are still many unknowns about Hulu Plus, but for now this is plenty to chew on.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
  • Here's What Fox, NBC and Hulu are Doing with Increased Online Ad Loads

    Get ready to see more ads in TV programs viewed online. Following my exclusive 2 weeks ago about ABC doubling the number of ads in its iPad app, and soon on, the same increased ad load is happening with Fox's and NBC's online programs, and in my opinion, likely with Hulu as well. Here's what I've learned:

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