The new fall season of The CW, a joint venture between Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) and CBS (NYSE: CBS ) , is upon us. You know you're looking forward to it -- I know I'm full of eager anticipation for Smallville. Perhaps you'll watch a new show called CW Now, an entertainment-magazine program that covers cultural topics such as fashion and technology. But there's a quirk.
According to The Wall Street Journal, there won't be any traditional commercial breaks. Instead, some of the program's segments will be a promo for an item. The Journal cites the example of Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) using its sponsorship to promote the release at the retailer of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Halo 3 video game.
While some might hate the idea of sponsors' messages being completely interwoven into a magazine show, I think it is a trend that not only must continue but also must be encouraged wholeheartedly. Advertisers have a legitimate gripe over whether they are receiving a proper return on investment on their marketing campaigns. Between channel surfers and services such as TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) -- which can inhibit the viewing of traditional commercials -- it's becoming increasingly difficult to reach eyeballs.
In a multichannel television landscape, where remote controls flip from network to network as soon as a block of commercials rears its ugly head, media icons such as Disney's (NYSE: DIS ) ABC and News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) Fox are becoming pressured to ensure that ads are properly distributed to the targeted demographic groups. Product placements and infomercial segments placed within scripted programming and reality shows will be utilized even more in the near future. No, the normal commercial spot will never go away; but rest assured, their effectiveness will be researched even more fully, thanks to services like Nielsen Media Research. As an example, commercials will come with ratings and the relationship between social outings and television viewing is also being explored.
Media pundits will talk of backlash and encroachment on the creative process, but I applaud The CW for this initiative. The channel is no stranger to creative thinking on this front, as I found with the company's content wraps. It will be interesting to see how viewers react to CW Now's paradigm.
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