Consumers, ComScore Ignore Tanking Bud.TV

As Traffic Numbers Drop, Site No Longer Registers With Measurement Firm

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CHICAGO ( -- The audience for Anheuser-Busch's pioneering online-TV network has shrunk to the point where it's invisible -- at least as far as the measurement standards are concerned.

Tony Ponturo, VP global media, Anheuser-Busch

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Bud.TV's April traffic was too light to even register on ComScore Media Metrix, which recorded 253,000 unique visitors for the site during February, falling off to 152,000 during March. A ComScore spokesman said the minimum-traffic reporting threshold varies for the ratings service, but added: "It's certainly fair to report that the site received less than 100,000" unique visitors in April.

That's a big comedown from the 2 million to 3 million unique monthly visitors the brewer's executives originally hoped to draw by next February. Last month they lowered expectations to 500,000 unique monthly visitors by then.

Early withdrawal possible
Bud.TV's top executive, A-B VP-Global Media Tony Ponturo, declined to comment about the ratings performance. But in a May 3 interview with USA Today, the executive said A-B could pull the plug on the site if the performance didn't improve by year's end.

Needless to say, when they announced high-profile deals for shows with he likes of actors Vince Vaughn and Kevin Spacey, sportscaster Joe Buck and racecar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., A-B executives expected better than what ratings service Quantcast calls the 140,770th busiest site on the web, down from 49,303rd place a month earlier. (In case you were wondering, porn site Hot Wife TV is ranked 140,771st, and wall-covering outlet York Wall ranks 140,669th, one spot ahead of the reported $30 to $40 million online network.)

Much fuss has been made over the site's age-verification firewall -- exhaustive compared to other alcohol internet sites -- which requires users to enter personal information from government-issued identification. A-B executives have said the firewall was likely discouraging a number of legal-age drinkers.

Tough call
But any move by A-B to relax Bud.TV's age-verification standards would risk a showdown with a group of state attorneys general who already have criticized the brewer for not doing enough to keep underage viewers out. In a letter to A-B, the attorneys general argued that, as a content producer and distributor, A-B has a greater burden to avoid marketing to youth than it does as a mere advertiser.

That's a real burden for the brewer, of course, but that the site's audience has shrunk, at best to less than 40% of its original size, suggests it may have a larger problem: Bud.TV's content isn't compelling the viewers who can view it to stick around.
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