NBC's Anti-TiVo Strategy: Sell The Show

NBC is announcing its 52-week TV schedule today. But the most interesting announcement isn’t a show, it’s a new business model — an old one, really.

In a preview, NBC execs told the NYTimes the strategy this year is to sign corporate sponsors for shows, a throwback to TV’s past (e.g, Texaco Star theatre). This isn’t a nostalgia play, though, but an attempt to cancel at least some of the impact of DVR-enabled ad skipping.

First deal: Liberty Mutual Group is sponsoring two made-for TV movies, which if successful, could be developed into series. The sponsorship agreement covers distribution on NBC, USA Network, NBC.com and Hulu. Video shorts will also run on Liberty Mutual’s Web site.

Scary thought: Liberty will help develop the scripts, which will emphasise the “Responsiblity. What’s your policy?” message.

Said NBC Entertainment Co-chairman Ben Silverman:

Digital manipulation, whether it’s called TiVo or the ability to fast-forward through commercials, is one of the driving factors behind the need to rethink our relationships with advertisers. The 30-second spot is still very relevant, very valuable, but this deal with Liberty Mutual is the centrepiece of the kind of deals we want to make going forward.

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