Monday, August 2, 2010

Dear Steve Levitan: Don't take 'Modern Family' offline!

James Hibberd reports:

If it was up to Steve Levitan, his ABC hit "Modern Family" wouldn't be available online.

During an ABC-sponsored coffee break at TCA, Levitan said he's unsuccessfully lobbied Disney-ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney to remove online versions of his hit show.

Noting there's roughly 2 million people watching "Modern Family" episodes online whose viewership is not fully monetized Levitan said that, in theory, those viewers could be watching the comedy on regular ad-supported TV.

I'm one of those 2 million viewers. And I need to let Mr. Levitan know something: I'm not going to watch "Modern Family" on TV if you take it offline. I don't have a TV. (I don't say that snobbishly; I'm obviously watching TV shows anyway.)

If you take "Modern Family" off Hulu, then, one of three things will happen.

* I will stop watching "Modern Family" entirely. There's no money in that for you!

* I might hypothetically watch, ahem, less than fully legal feeds of "Modern Family" that will be easy to find online anyway. There's no money in that for you!

* I will wait a year or two for "Modern Family" to show up on Netflix Streaming, or some after-the-fact placement on Hulu, and watch it then. In which case, you probably get some money -- but only about as much as you're getting now!

As Levitan surely knows -- or, at least he should -- 2 million viewers online isn't really 2 million viewers he's not getting on television. Some people might go back to the TV, surely, but a lot won't. Instead of seeing the 2 million viewers of "Modern Family" online as "not fully monetized," he should instead think of them as "additional monetization we might not be getting otherwise." Hulu is ad-supported, after all.

The web video genie is out of the bottle. It's not going back in.

1 comment:

KhabaLox said...

The wife and I are Modern Family TV watchers, but like probably a significant (and growing) proportion of TV viewers, especially of shows like Modern Family that (I'd guess) skew younger, we watch on DVR. I don't know if Nielsen accounts for that, but they aren't really getting money from me.

I think the future of TV will be a Borg-like assimilation by the Web. Our screens are increasingly becoming portals to the same world. I'm interested to see how Google TV works out, but I think eventually the TV in your house will be a big, touch-screen and infrared/radio remote controlled VDT for a household computer system that integrates with the web (and Hulu, Netflix, etc.)