I tweeted earlier in the week about the decision by CBS to livestream Super Bowl ads and how this represents the first time a network has required advertisers to purchase an online spot along with their broadcast spot since livestreaming of games became available in 2012.
I believe that this is a step toward finally recognizing that TV time has evolved to becoming a shared experience with the smartphone and tablet, and that all networks and advertisers need to adapt to the multi-screen world that consumers live in. It is also clear that this bundling is a smart revenue tactic by CBS. As an advertiser who has been part of the last nine Super Bowls, I have mixed feelings about the bundling move and the fact that the advertiser can’t opt out. According to Variety, NBC’s online stream of this year’s game attracted 2.5 million unique viewers. While this number is large, when put into the context of the 112.2 million who tuned into the broadcast, this audience size was miniscule.
My question for CBS and other networks is if you believe in the multi-screen world the consumers have migrated to, then why not mandate and sell all your TV content bundled with online spots? As an advertiser I want to pay to reach the total audience across multiple devices on which the content is consumed. I realize that the Super Bowl bundle represents a symbolic leap toward this new paradigm for content, consumption and reach, but unless the networks can apply this consistently across everyday programming, I’m afraid it will remain simply that. In other words, you’ve got the ball - are you going to run with it?