Erik Flannigan, Executive Vice President of Digital Media at MTV Networks Entertainment Group, shared some interesting details at our NewTeeVee Live conference today about the way his networks are utilizing online video. Flannigan’s job is overseeing the web sites of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and these sites have been generating tons of video views for the network. Take Jon Stewart ripping into Fox News, for example. Clips like that receive 500,000 viewers from Huffington Post alone.
Flannigan doesn’t fear that people will shun their cable subscription for HuffPost’s embedded clips and ColbertNation streams. “Putting content online isn’t eating into your network ad sales”, he told the audience of NewTeeVee Live. Comedy Central’s online video traffic is always in sync with its network ratings. “That’s a good thing if you have hits and a bad thing if you don’t,” he added. Part of MTVN’s strategy for the future is to actually disintegrate these properties a little bit so online can have more a life of its own.
So what’s in store for monetizing Comedy Central and Spike TV content online? Flannigan said that he doesn’t see big changes ahead for some of it’s most popular shows. The network produces 160 episodes each year for both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and he doesn’t see anyone spend 99 cents for each episode anytime soon. In other words: Advertising is where it’s at, and the cake is only gonna get bigger.
Flannigan didn’t share any details about MTVN’s current online ad sales, but he said he sees the current state as a base line to grow on. he gave Hulu props for setting some of the standards in this space. However, Flannigan doesn’t seem to believe that Hulu will stay ad-only forever. His prognosis is that Hulu will eventually start offering premium subscriptions in one form or another, and that Disney will play a big role in establishing these new business models.
Finally, Flannigan shared a few thoughts about piracy, stating that 20 percent of all viewers will probably never pay, while another 20 percent would never pirate content. It would be up to the industry to win over the remaining 60 percent. That doesn’t mean release windows should be gotten rid of completely, but you’ll actually be getting HD and other extras that may be worthwhile to wait and pay.