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Added value for stations in ‘ebay-TV’

Nov 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Oh baby, how TV stations would love to get some of that eBay money.
eBay, the popular Internet auction site, is one of the truly great success stories of the Web, and of American business. In its most recent financial results, eBay reported profits tripled on revenues that increased 49 percent.
In suites of TV station executives all over the country, those kinds of numbers command immediate attention and drooling comments such as “Now that’s entertainment!”
So the big question is how to translate the eBay success to TV.
Sony Pictures Television and eBay think they have the answer: Stations who pick up “ebay-TV” can offer goods and services from advertisers in auctions that are linked to a station’s Web site. Furthermore, by using eBay’s e-commerce technology, stations will be able to offer a marketer’s fixed-price items.
“This is an opportunity for stations to target advertisers they never thought possible,” said Jim Davis, executive producer, “ebay-TV,” and VP, entertainment marketing and business development, at eBay, revealing for the first time the business model behind the selling of “ebay-tv.” “Whether it’s used cars or the newest fall lineup special at Bloomingdale’s, this show will empower stations to bring new advertisers to daytime TV that had previously shut doors. Stations can even boost their own brand by auctioning off a golf outing with the sports anchor or teaming up with a local charity.”
The local station would earn a commission on all items sold through the site, which will be designed for the station by the series producers. Local auctions would be located on a co-branded page that would link both from the stations’ Web site and from eBay’s national site.
The series will provide a one-minute local cutaway segment for affiliates as part of the show designed to promote the station’s Web site as well as the market’s hot auctions of the day. In addition, eBay will pay stations $6 for every person who registers with eBay through the local site.
Sony struck a deal with eBay earlier in the year to create a branded television show for a fall 2003 launch. The series will combine elements from other genres including “Entertainment Tonight,” “Antiques Roadshow” and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” in a topical magazine format hosted by Molly Pesce of “Short Attention Span Theater” and “The Daily Show.”
“We had been pursuing the show for over a year because we felt this was a community that brought both a brand name and integrity that said something to a viewer,” said Russ Krasnoff, president of production at Sony Pictures Television. “We experimented a lot, crafting a show that we believe viewers will love, and we’ve come up with something truly unique, not only to the viewer but to our stations as well.”
Despite the natural potential for television/online integration, the key to the show’s success may lie in its unusual business model. Through some unusual positioning, the day-and-date strip is claiming to be able to create new revenue streams, capitalize on a loyal pre-existing audience and increase local station visibility through eBay resources.
“The turnover of new shows these past few years proves that business models aren’t as effective as they used to be,” said John Weiser, executive VP, Sony Pictures Television. “We have opened a door to create a dual revenue stream through a business that last year saw $14 billion change hands.”
How enthusiastic stations will be about the concept remains to be seen. But Bill Carroll, Katz Television Group VP and director of group programming, said that in the end it’s the dollars that count.
“Right now stations are ultimately making their decisions based on the business plan,” he said. “Sony has been looking for new ways to do business and have in their laps a known brand. Will it work? I don’t know, but if it does it will ultimately be because the business model works and, in theory at least, it may just be a sound one.”