Bud.tv, the original content play from Anheuser-Busch, was supposed to garner two to three million visitors per month by the end of this year.
February’s total: 253,000. Oops. Big thumbs down with a fart noise on that one. You are now free to play verbal punnilingus — Bud.tv goes flat! Bud.tv taps out! — with the bad news.
But seriously. The low tally isn’t completely the fault of Anheuser-Busch. The company was pressured into placing an age verification system at its front door (an effort later lambasted by 21 state’s attorneys general). The site received an average of 20,000 visits per day in the week following the Super Bowl, but only 800-1,000 were registering — “we think because of the registration process,” VP Tony Ponturo told the Hollywood Reporter.
Anheuser-Busch also apparently decided at the last minute to promote sites that showed Super Bowl commercials — like YouTube — rather than the Bud.tv domain.
Bud.tv’s low traffic is a shame, though, because some of the content is pretty good. “What Women Want” is a hetero-centric “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”; “Ice Vision and Chef” features Tim Meadows as a born-to-lose superhero; “Donnie Briggs: Life Coach” is a faux advice show for women hosted by a horny old man. It’s like SpikeTV, but slightly more risque. For kids raised on NES, Transformers and Beavis & Butthead, the formula is right for commercial success.
This isn’t to say A-B has been blameless. After all, the site breaks almost every accessibility rule, with pop-up windows, content wrapped completely in Flash, and poor use of screen real estate. You can’t embed videos and if you send your friends to the site, they have to register. (Regular NTV readers may recall Jackson’s initial displeasure with the site.)
And if that wasn’t enough, the content at site launch was mostly commercials for content that had yet to debut. If you do the math, the site is effectively a commercial for commercials about commercialized content. That’s not a good way to approach an online generation being raised on accessibility.
And there’s the lesson — unsexy, oft-repeated, but true — that A-B needs to take away from this. You can have good writers, good actors and good shows. But watching video online is all about ease of use. If you make it hard on your audience, your audience will make it hard on you.