Thursday, October 23, 2008

Poster Child

Anyone running or thinking of setting up an internet TV channel could do no better than look at the poster boy of the narrowcasting world - CNN.

This is a channel that has never had much of an audience outside the US - indeed, it does not even get a rating in the UK, so low is its audience, but it still thrives.

It's a channel delivering a global audience in a world where media is bought locally; it's a channel that attracts advertisers who do not otherwise use TV and it's a channel that does this with hugely parochial content (most presenters on the UK service are either Australian or American).

So, how do they do it ? Well, first of all it took them a long time - five years before they made appreciable revenues from advertising. Secondly they employed great sales people who tirelessly worked both the media buying agencies and the clients directly. Thirdly, they targetted sponsorship as well as advertising and came up with innovative formats (including those awful hotel ad slots). Finally, they realised that they needed to be where their core target audience was - in airport lounges and hotel rooms, so they offered unique distribution to a valuable audience that is very difficult to reach.

All lessons that can be transferred to the internet TV industry.

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