Friday, January 08, 2016

We Have Overstuffed the Bird

This is a HUGE announcement by new TBS president Kevin Reilly. He announced yesterday that TBS is going to DECREASE the number of ads on their television network by 50%. His quote really nails it: "We have overstuffed the bird."

I know it seems counterintuitive to the rest of the television and radio executives out there, because fewer commercials seems like it would mean less revenue. But the American public simply doesn't have the stomach for commercials anymore, and it's about time the industry comes to grips with it. We can stream entire seasons of television series without having to watch a single commercial. (Or DVR shows and fast forward through commercials). We can listen to satellite or internet radio and not be bothered by commercials. We know what it's like now without commercials, and we don't want to go back to the old way of doing it. That's a big reason ratings are down so much for traditional radio and television.

And yet, as the ratings have gone down, executives have been trying to stuff even more commercials into broadcasts to make up for that lost revenue, which causes the ratings to go down further, and the revenue to decline even more. Something had to give. At some point, the new reality had to be confronted.

"It's going to take time for us to earn our stripes; it's not going to happen overnight," said Reilly, who added that the transition will take three years to complete. "We're sprinting, but it is a marathon. Three years from now, TBS and TNT will be radically different businesses than they are today.

"It's going to be a hairy couple of years in the business in general," said Reilly, but his goal is to keep TNT and TBS an essential part of the industry's evolution.

This was a long time coming and I hope it's not an outlier.

Adweek has the details.