Sony Crackle is taking credit for the promises being made by TV networks to reduce the amount of commercial time during their programming.
NBC, Fox, Turner, Viacom and others have pledged to trim commercial breaks, one of many responses to downward pressure on advertising as digital continues its disruption. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes even complained about “too many” ads being “part of the problem” with the traditional TV business during his testimony in the company’s antitrust trial last week.
Eric Berger, GM of Sony Crackle and also Chief Digital Officer at Sony Pictures Television Networks, told the audience at the ad-supported streaming service’s upfront this morning that Crackle has long been on that page.
The service “several years ago” introduced an initiative called BreakFree, Berger said, which reduced ad loads during Crackle originals. (News of a Season 2 renewal for The Oath, the service’s most successful show yet, also came out at the upfront, along with other original programming moves.) The result has been an “immersive, ad-friendly experience,” Berger said. “This concept has finally taken hold in the industry, with some of the big broadcast networks suddenly following lead in terms of reducing ad load.”
He later clarified in an interview with Deadline that the streaming service typically has five ad breaks in a typical hour of programming. Originals average 90 seconds per break, which is half the industry average for linear hours of programming. Ad revenues at Sony Crackle, Berger said, have risen by roughly 50% over the past five years. As with many measurable metrics in the streaming video space, the revenue figure is a bit opaque. Berger did not specify a total ad revenue figure — Sony Corp., which will report earnings Friday (U.S. time), does not break out results for Crackle.
Berger said Sony Crackle’s new arrangement with Nielsen’s Marketing Cloud, announced during the upfront, will enable the company to measure living-room viewing via smart TVs, streaming boxes and gaming consoles. With 100 million global installations of the Sony Crackle app, plus carriage from some traditional pay-TV operators, the living-room quotient has been increasing.
Sony Crackle also released findings from a study done by Miner & Co., which identified three main categories of its audience: Alphas, Rechargers and ThrillSeekers. By understanding the psychographics of these three groups, Berger said the company is able to better tailor ads to viewers, always the name of the game but never more so than during the streaming era, which has increased viewer impatience with traditional ads.