Crackle Sets an Ad-Backed Strategy

As Upfronts — and NewFronts — approach, Sony’s ad-supported streaming service Crackle (which did an upfront briefing for reporters last Tuesday) continues to buck the trend of other subscription-based, commercial-free OTT services. It offers as many as six scripted shows, plus plans for prep-2018 FIFA World Cup shorts and a series about eSports participants, without charging a subscription fee. Sony Crackle general manager Eric Berger spoke with B&C senior content producer R. Thomas Umstead about the service’s ad-supported strategy.

Has Crackle considered launching a commercial- free, subscription-based service to complement the free offering? We think more people are looking at free services because you just can’t afford all the services available. People pull out of cable and satellite channels, and they start to put together a la carte services, and next thing you know, they turn around and they’re paying as much as they were before. So as you construct your personal bundle you can always add free to the mix.

Have you heard that from potential subscribers that the ad load is the reason why they don’t watch Crackle? Some people say that; that’s one of the reasons we dive down into the psychographics. We want to know who’s more prone, who’s less prone and what it would take to have them be comfortable. That’s why we have research that says some are comfortable with ads if they are humorous, and some are fine with ads connect with them more individually.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.