There is profit in online video, Canwest exec says

Canwest's digital chief Graham Moysey says online video is profitable for his network, but EVP of content Barb Williams says only because her side of the business buys good shows.

Canwest digital chief Graham Moysey bucked expectations this week when he told a panel at the nextMEDIA conference yesterday that online video is such a good advertising media for his network that it’s profitable.

‘If you can secure the digital rights up front, you can have a profitable P&L [profit and loss statement] down the road. You won’t be costed out along the way,’ said Moysey, a former Bell Sympatico/MSN exec hired by Canwest Global Communications last year to create cross-platform advertising for major advertisers.

That may be so, countered EVP of content Barbara Williams, but only because her network paid dearly for popular U.S shows which no online video site can match.

‘What’s driving that fantastic video show growth is the primetime growth of Global Television,’ she insisted.

Canwest and its rivals increasingly find themselves going online for trivial ad dollars just as primetime ad revenues collapse and U.S. programming costs rise.

‘We’re splitting what side of the business bears the cost, and which side of the business claims a profitable P&L,’ Williams added.

She argued that top-ten primetime series are expensive to produce and acquire, and that those costs can’t be recovered online.

‘We’re delighted that more people watch House. But we need to ensure the return on those users will ultimately support the cost of putting on the show. It’s not about being protective about TV. It’s about being concerned about whether we can buy the show in the first place,’ she told the panel.

Fred Fuchs, the newly promoted general manager of production enterprises at the CBC, agreed it was difficult figuring out how to offer high-quality shows across multiple platforms when audiences can increasingly watch content anytime, anywhere. ‘There’s no growth to the advertising pot. Unless we make less-high quality TV shows, it will be a challenging time for us,’ he said.

nextMEDIA’s programming lineup yesterday also included the Canadian New Media Awards, handed out at the event last night. Doritos, and BBDO/Proximity, walked away with two awards for its ‘White Bag’ campaign in which it invited consumers to name a new flavour of chip. The brand’s use of new media in the campaign earned it ‘Best Interactive Marketing’ and ‘Best Brand of the Year.’

From Playback Daily, with files from Media in Canada