A Tilt of the Glass to Bud.TV

Bold Experiment "Fades" but Concept Still Sound

By Published on .

Media sellers are no doubt cheering the all-but-confirmed failure of Bud.TV, convincing themselves it's evidence marketers such as Anheuser-Busch will still have to rely on Big Media to produce and distribute content and aggregate audiences.

But Bud.TV's inability to draw an audience large enough to sustain a stand-alone network doesn't mean the concept wasn't sound. The age-verification process clearly kept some potential viewers away. The more likely culprit in its weak showing is that the content simply wasn't compelling enough -- the same thing that keeps viewers away from broadcast networks when they program the wrong shows.

Bud.TV was perhaps the boldest experiment to date in the Madison & Vine space, an attempt to elevate branded entertainment to its highest promise: marketer as media. A-B deserves credit for taking that risk, and the brewer will no doubt apply the learnings to its online marketing going forward.

Regardless of the outcome, the idea was a good one: in the digital space, audiences will seek out and consume entertaining or informational content regardless of its source. A marketer is as legitimate a creator of that content as a TV network or a 15-year-old with a digital camera and a good idea. Since beer ads already carry the expectation of a higher entertainment value, it was only natural that a brewer would be the first to try this kind of move. Marketers in other categories may be less willing to make such an investment based on Bud.TV's poor performance. Instead, they should use the lessons of Bud.TV to refine and strengthen a promising marketing concept.

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