Online advertising cluttering online TV
Online advertising for online TV used to be rare. Now online advertising is flourishing on Web-streamed TV shows.
LOS ANGELES – One of the rewards of watching TV online is not having to sit through as many commercials. Now the networks are chipping away at that little luxury.Skip to next paragraph
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CBS shows twice as many ads per show on its website as it did last year. The CW network shows four times as many. Dozens of shows from major cable networks now carry as many ads online as they do on TV. More shows will follow soon.
The online audience is still small compared with television, but it's growing. Networks hope that by showing more online advertising, they can make about as much money per viewer online as they do on the tube.
It's a change from the early days of online video. When ABC started putting full episodes of its shows online in 2006, fans could zip through the hour-long dramas "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" in about 45 minutes. One short ad played a few times per show.
Limiting commercials kept people from going to unauthorized websites to watch pirated copies of shows. It also helped networks reach new audiences in college dorms and teenage bedrooms.
Now, as online audiences grow, networks see an opportunity to make more money. A recent episode of "Hawaii Five-O" carried six and a half minutes of ads online. That's less than the 16 minutes on TV but double what an hour-long show carried on CBS.com a year ago.
Online video has improved in recent years with faster Internet connections and better technology. The advances have led some people to give up on regular TV — and hefty cable bills that come with it — and watch only online.
Other networks offer live sports online. ESPN puts events on ESPN3.com for viewers who get Internet service through certain providers. And NBC put hundreds of hours of live competition online during the 2008 and 2010 Olympics. NBC agreed Tuesday to pay $4.4 billion for the rights to televise the Olympics through 2020.
Watching your shows on a computer, of course, means being forced to watch the ads. On the tube, digital video recorders allow you to fast-forward through them. For many people, the convenience of watching whenever, wherever makes going online worth it.