ABC.com was the first to post its broadcast content online with four shows about two years ago. Liz Gannes, Editor, NewTeeVee chats with Alexis Rapo, V-P, Digital Media, Disney-ABC Television Group about how ABC monetizes the content and what it plans to do in online video.
Rapo: We have 17 shows now. The strategy for us is to look at how will we grow this business, and how will we build the ad model around that. So far we feel successful at what we are doing. Now we’re rolling out additional features to make the viewing experience and advertising experiences better.
Liz: Why is your player not embeddable and why a walled garden around your content?
Rapo: We have an open format and you can get our link and player elsewhere on the Internet. We have seen that in 72 percent of research, our audience is aware you come to network sites for long-form viewing. They know they are watching a show on our air.
Liz: Can you tell us about original content?
Rapo: We’ve tried some mixed approaches for short-form and long-form content. We’ve tried a few formats for original content: We just launched a series of short videos tied to our Ugly Betty show. We got 8.5 million video views on six episodes over seven weeks. We are pretty bullish on building content around our content. We can continue to build show around our brands, and capitalize on the quality of the characters.
Liz: No new web shows?
Rapo: Never say never and we’ve tried original and had good numbers, but when we tried Ugly Betty it just blew that out of the water.
Liz: Where is the money coming from? Higher CPMs on the web than on TV?
Rapo: We have been able to command premium on CPMs both for short and long form content. Advertisers own an entire stream of a long form and there’s more likely that consumers will buy something seen advertised online and on air.
L: Do you think that watching TV through the browser is a mainstream phenomenon?
A: We’re looking at where the ad dollars are going to flow, but so far we see consumers telling us that this is a catch up mechanism. The shift hasn’t happened but we have to be prepared with models that as that shift happens you aren’t giving up a premium business to a sub premium business.
L: What will we see coming up?
A: You’ll see more innovation around our long form player, and allowing outside developers to work with us. And we’re still focusing on monetization.
Question: Where does the traffic come from and how will you deal with new set-top-boxes such as Roku?
A: About 98 percent of our traffic comes from ABC.com in terms of over-the-top boxes, we’re looking at how we develop a format and work with the multiple boxes out there?
L:How much can you affect the creative aspects of a show for online opportunities?
A: We collaborate with our existing shows and were focused on using our existing talent and want to play into existing storylines, and I think the proof for us has been the fan response.
Question? Can you tell us about the differences in budgets and timing for short form vs. long-form content?
A: We have a fully built out HD video team and center, so we can take that onto shows. We shot Ugly Betty for two days and the programs were ready in three weeks. We’re very efficient or sometimes cheap. We spend under $100,000 to get those types of short-form content developed.