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Netflix, Amazon and HBO handed NBC millions for Super Bowl ads - as they actively try and kill TV

Business Insider | Feb 5, 2018, 04.30PM IST

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Paramount

  • NBC made millions from Super Bowl ads from Netflix, Amazon, HBO and Hulu.
  • But as the network tried to use the big game last night to promote its new shows and its massive bet on the Winter Olympics, it's also encouraging people to ditch live TV.
  • It's symbolic of a unique conundrum TV networks face currently. Streaming services need to run ads during big live events on TV. But ultimately they threaten to hammer the TV ad business.


Netflix last night handed NBC upwards of $5 million for a Super Bowl ad - just to tell an expected television audience of 100 million or so people to stream an-out of-nowhere sequel to sci-fi hit "Cloverfield" after the game. Stream it, that is, instead of watching NBC's all-new, way-hyped, episode of "This is Us."

Hulu also ran a Super Bowl ad to promote its upcoming series from Stephen King and J.J. Abrams called "Castle Rock." Amazon did the same for its new "Jack Ryan" series, as did HBO to promote a trailer for season 2 of "Westworld."

All told, they streaming services likely paid over $20 million on advertising meant to encourage people to watch TV without commercials instead of tuning in to, say, a major sporting event. 

Meanwhile, NBC's own ads during the game showed us what it wants people to do: stick around for that super-emotional "This is Us" and remember to tune in to the Winter Olympics starting next weekend. NBC is also hoping that you'll make an appointment to watch that upcoming "Friday Night Lights"/"Hamiton" hybrid "Rise."

That show looks great (So does that Amazon Jack Ryan one by the way). And the Olympics are always magical. That is, if you remember to interrupt whatever show your binging to actually turn them on.

All this makes for an awkward pairing, but what's NBC going to do? Turn away Netflix, Amazon or HBO's money? At least in the case of Hulu's ad, the show's in the family because NBC's parent owns a stake in Hulu. But even then, the more people subscribe to Hulu, the fewer people will keep watching live ad-supported network TV habitually. 

It also shows us the power of live commercial TV events like the Super Bowl. Where else can you tell the whole country about a new show at once? The answer is nowhere. 

The problem is, it also serves as a poignant reminder that this won't be the case forever. The NFL's ratings are down, and NBC's decision to spend $7.75 billion to lock up the Olympics through 2032 is a gamble. Even the Super Bowl is steadily losing viewership. 

So the question for NBC is this: are you helping accelerate your own decline, or just making the most out of a bad situation while you still can? There's no good answer. 

 

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