The big star of the television upfronts, an ancient artifact of a marketplace where big television networks pre-sell advertising to big advertisers, was… wait for it… ad-supported streaming services. You say you like your ad-free streams, you can keep them. If you want “free” streams, try AVOD (advertising video on demand).
The benefit of AVOD is that it’s “free” to consumers, except it’s not free, as consumers technically pay for the service by “paying” attention to the ads. This business model has worked for the broadcast television industry (TV, the platform: antennas, channels, old school) for the better part of the last 60 years. It won’t work online because old school metrics don’t apply.
By old school, I mean Nielsen. They’ve been making up metrics for the broadcast industry since 1947. You can push back, but old school broadcast ratings are calculated by taking highly imperfect survey data and estimating what that data might mean. Nielsen ratings are an exchange currency for the broadcast business, and as long as everyone was using the same metrics, business could be easily transacted. It was a good solution for the technology of its day.
This method does not work online, which is why no one cares what Nielsen thinks or says about online metrics. Streaming metrics are unapologetically digital. There’s no estimating the audience, no guessing who was watching, no mystery about conversion metrics. You are you (logged in with a username and password). You watched or you didn’t. You clicked/tapped or you didn’t. (There are attribution metrics and other metrics that are important and hard to measure with online tools, but that’s for another article.)
None of the above will stop AVOD. The networks want it, the advertisers need it, and the industry will do everything it can to get you to watch it. Remember: there are only three business models: I pay, you pay, or someone else pays.
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.