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Dooce's Heather Armstrong on Nightline

ABC’s Nightline profiles Heather, her site, her dog Chuck, her new book and her sidekick Jon.

Heather Armstrong on Nightline

ABC is #1 Among Broadcast TV Websites

Silicon Alley Insider looks at Nielsen numbers to determine ABC has taken the #1 spot among websites attached to the broadcast networks, where — according to SAI — the CPMs can be as high as $70.

Nielsen Numbers on Broadcast TV Websites

Battelle, ESPN: The Trouble With Ad Networks

Battelle takes a deep look at the difference between media companies and ad networks at Searchblog, and how the big online portals are confusing the two.

“Do we [in the media business] sell inventory to the highest bidder via algorithms, automated processes, and platforms? Or do partner with marketers and creators of media to build brands – both media brands, and consumer marketing brands?

“I know how the folks who no longer work at AOL, Yahoo, or MSN feel about this question. They’re all brand people. And it’s entirely clear how the Google-chasers have answered that question: They’ve collectively spent billions of dollars amassing ‘access to inventory’ and ‘ad platforms’ in single-minded competition with Google.

“It seems the future, according to AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft, is in ad networks.”

Meanwhile, one of the top brands in quality content and marketing relationships with global brands, ESPN is severing ties with ad networks:

“The sites like ESPN have cut ties with Specific Media and several other ad networks saying that ad selling that relies heavily on arbitrage and algorithms is not for them. ‘We’re heading down a path where it no longer suits our business needs to work with ad networks,’ said Eric Johnson, Vice President, Multimedia Sales, ESPN.”

Writers' Strike Has Doubled Online Video Viewership

From TechCrunch, which takes a look at Nielsen NetRatings numbers over the past few months. Andreessen was right, the strike is launching digital video into the mainstream. Add that to the cancellation of the Golden Globe Awards (the Oscars might be next) and NBC giving money back to advertisers, the Writers’ strike will go down as the turning point for video online.

Writers' Strike May Cancel TV Upfront

The broadcasts networks are considering canceling the star-clad “upfront” events in favor of block-and-tackle sales calls with top advertisers, according to the NY Times:

“with the writers’ strike now looking as if it may extend into the new year, threatening the normal timetable for developing prime-time series, every major network is pondering the elimination of the big, garish upfront shows — which cost $3 million to $5 million a year.

“Jeff Zucker, the president of NBC Universal, is the most vocal, willing to say publicly that his network is contemplating junking its upfront event. For NBC in recent years, that has consisted of unveiling the new lineup before a packed crowd in Radio City Music Hall, and a canape-and-drinks party in and around the skating rink in Rockefeller Plaza.

“‘In light of the changing business environment, we are looking very seriously at not doing the extravaganza part of the upfront process,’ said Mr. Zucker, who acknowledged that he has been thinking for some time that the upfront shows have outlived their usefulness and cost-effectiveness. ‘Once we make it, it is not a one-year decision,’ Mr. Zucker said. ‘We do not make it lightly, and obviously we are going to consult with our advertising partners.’

“Mr. Zucker emphasized that NBC would still take part in the actual selling part of the upfront, where deals are made with advertisers to pay set prices for time on network shows. He said that the process remained ‘the best mechanism’ to do business for new network schedules.

“Those deals — the networks took in more than $9 billion in last year’s upfront — would simply be made after much smaller presentations in much smaller settings for much smaller groups of ad buyers. It would become, Mr. Zucker said, more like ‘a personal call’ on advertisers, much more the way most cable networks have sold in the upfront: small concentrated sales efforts.”

I bet that’s a relief for programming execs like Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment, who has had to dance with stars at previous upfronts.

ABC Dances With Stars

TV Networks Have Smallish Web Audiences

I’m surprised to see the relatively small audiences Nielsen Online reports for the Big Four TV networks. From PaidContent:

“Nielsen Online counts ABC in first place with 10.6 million unique visitors in October, followed by NBC with 8.1 million uniques, CBS (NYSE: CBS) with 6.1 million and Fox with 3.4 million.”

Even if you assume there’s no duplication of audience (unlikely), the four networks combined are reaching only 28.2 million monthly uniques online. FM doesn’t yet subscribe to Nielsen, but Comscore reports the 125 independent sites that made up FM in September 2007 (it’s closer to 140 now) reach nearly 42 million monthly uniques. More evidence that as audiences migrate from offline to online media, they aren’t necessarily loyal to their former offline brands.