Who Will Pay for TV?

This is a recurring theme for me, which will be familiar to Almanac readers; if everyone is skipping the commercials, who will pay for TV? The subscription fees you pay for cable or satellite do pay something back to the content producers, but without advertising, the major networks can’t get enough money to pay for the enormous production costs for their prime time programming. (That’s why they’re all in a race to the bottom with reality and news shows that cost far less to make.) And delivering content over the Internet is only making the problem more difficult.

Back in the early days of television, the sponsor’s name was often right in the title of the show. And since it was broadcast live, the ads were performed right on the same set as the program itself. Thus the dancing pack of cigarettes was born. But that could never play with today’s modern, sophisticated audiences, right?

Vizio's Profiles is a new show on Fox Sports Net sponsored by Vizio.

Well, Vizio is betting otherwise. They’re putting their name on “Vizio’s Profiles”, a new show that will debut this Friday, October 2, at 11 PM on Fox Sports Net. The weekly half-hour show will report on stars of the National Football League. And why is a television company getting into the program production business? According to the company press release:

“The proliferation of DVRs is forcing every company to reevaluate how it spends its media dollars,” said Jason Maciel, director of marketing at VIZIO. “VIZIO’S PROFILES represents a shift for us to move beyond traditional media buys to the development and ownership of branded content.”

This is an interesting move. Product placement has become rampant in prime time television and movies, but will anyone else follow Vizio’s lead and produce their own content for broadcast? It’s all part of the rapidly shifting landscape that makes up the video entertainment industry these days. Watch closely!