Monday, May 9, 2016

Product placements and hidden costs

Intrusive product placement was one of the reasons I stopped watching White Collar. The annoyance wasn't up there with the plot holes and character inconsistencies, but it was a factor. The spots were so clumsy and blatant that I wondered if they were meant as a protest by the writers, directors, and actors. Either way, it was a major distraction in a show that couldn't afford it.

In the television market of 2016, the field is so crowded that every viewing choice comes with opportunity costs. By choosing to watch Veep or Kimmy Schmidt or Silicon Valley or any of the dozen or so of the shows you really do mean to get around to. That level of competition for viewers heightens what has always been a perverse incentive in most corporations and the delayed, the hidden, the intangible.

When an executive suggests a change that saves money or brings in revenue at the cost of quality or customer loyalty, the positives are immediately evident; the negatives (assuming they are recognized at all) are usually delayed until the executive has moved up and out of the blast radius. In a market where all shows have to fight to hold on to viewers, that can deadly.

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