NBC is dipping its toes in the Direct Content business for the first time in my memory. They’re offering Coastal Dreams, which their site describes as “[the story of] two young women living, working and playing in the scenic seaside town of Pacific Shores,” exclusively online. Imagine a Baywatch Soap Opera.
What’s most fascinating to me is the breadth of extra content available. They’re not just showing episodes online, there’s a tremendous amount of additional content. The inbox of one of the characters on the show, interviews with the cast.
But what does NBC get out of it? Well, they get the exclusive advertising rights. No longer are mid-show commercials shared (or overwritten) by local broadcasters. They show me ads, and install four cookies on my computer to track (presumably) which shows I visit, which ads I click on, which shows I learn more about. It looks like they’re getting ready to build a passive profile of “me” on their site, with page ads and commercials all targeted at me, rather than hoping I fit the largest demographic for whatever time period the show is on. As it happens, I saw commercials for tampons. Go figure.
The other big advantage? The adoption cost is incredibly low. Suppose a friend told me that Coastal Dreams was her favorite new show. The season started in October, so the chances that I’d be seeing all the old episodes in the right order are virtually zero. I can’t exactly join in midway through, or else I wouldn’t know if April overreacted by firing Christian. Well, now NBC doesn’t have to waste airtime with reruns to attract new viewers. If I want to watch the story from the beginning to catch up, I can simply log on and view all the past episodes. No waiting for the Season 1 DVD, no reading episode synopsis on Wikipedia or Torrenting the first half of the season. It’s all right there, and that way NBC still gets their advertising buck for me watching.
I think this is a very interesting experiment. The cost of launching a show this way is dramatically lower, the fans feel more “invested” because they get more than a passive interaction with the storyline, and best of all, all the Ad revenue is pointing right back at NBC. No middlemen, no cable company taking their cut, nothing.
I haven’t had the time or desire to actually watch an episode of Coastal Dreams yet, but I’d bet you can’t fast forward through the commercials, either. Take that, Tivo!
I’ll be watching this one closely. Not the show, the experiment. The show seems aimed at pre-teen girls.