TBS! Way to lose some money, annoy me and use a windowing strategy completely incorrectly!

So here's what happened.

Maybe because its set in Chicago, or maybe just because the writing is so good, I really like My Boys. So its on my DVR list. I get home excepting to watch the show a few Thrusdays ago, except that something funky happened and the recording got messed up. My options: wait a few days and record the re-run, or catch it online right away. I decided I wanted to watch it right then, and went to TBS' website. Here's what the thought-stream went like after that
  • Click. Woohoo, they have full episodes on the sites
  • Click. Huh? Ok. the show isn't online yet; maybe in a few hours?
  • Click. The new episode will be online on the 19th; exactly 8 days from now! Argh! WTF?
  • Click. Fine, I still want to watch the show now, so twenty minutes later I did watch it on my laptop, but TBS didn't get a chance to serve me ads in the middle of the show and severely reduced the probability of my visiting TBS.com ever again.
Using windowing strategies (i.e. making things available at different times in different media) is an established practice in media, but it doesn't really work well online especially for single episodes. I'm ruling out incompetence, so you can boil down TBS' logic for delaying availability online to one thing. They believe delaying availability of the show online on their website will somehow lead to more people watching the re-run. I don't have proof that they're wrong, but I'm definitely leaning in that direction. I think they're under-estimating the options consumers have to watch the show and dis-intermediate them. They may be right; most people I know don't know what a torrent is, but they'll learn quickly and if not a technology will come up to make it easier.

I can't help feeling that the right strategy here was to make the show available right away (maybe even a little bit ahead of the broadcast.), show ads with the show online and even market the availability of the show online. Give consumers what they want, when they want it rather than give online pirates or anyone else a chance to get them out of the loop.

Its particularly sad, because they've done such a good job (along with Alltel) of creating ads that use characters from the show (below)


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