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TV10s builds buzz on blurbs

Caption ads capture coin

NEW YORK — Something as nuts and bolts as closed captioning could end up funneling as much as $1 billion a year in extra advertising revenue to the TV business as early as 2006.

That’s the word from Bob Dahill, exec VP of Asphalt Media, who has formed a company called TV10s with John Moczulski, former exec veep of programming and marketing for the Viacom TV Group. Their veepee of sales is Kimberly Bryson.

Goal of TV10s is to sign up some of the broadcast and cable networks, along with TV syndicators like its client NBC Universal Domestic, to package an on-air closed-captioning announcement with a 10-second brought-to-you-by spot.

Dahill said these spots mirror the 10-second fee spots that run at the end of many syndicated programs like “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.” Airlines and hotels regularly use these spots under the rubric “Promotional considerations by. …”

“Jeopardy” pockets $12 million-$15 million a year in extra ad revenue from fee spots and “Wheel” harvests $10 million-$12 million.

The total revenues from fee and closed-captioning spots could jump to $280 million in 2005 from about $250 million in 2004, Dahill said.

But 2006 could be the $1 billion breakthrough year, he continued, because the federal government, through the Telecommunications Act of 1996, has ordered the Federal Communications Commission to require all broadcasters and cable networks to close-caption their shows for the hearing impaired as of Jan. 1.

Because the equipment for closed captioning is not cheap, the feds allowed broadcasters and cable webs to sell a spot that would allow an advertiser to sponsor the closed-captioning announcement with a 10-second message.

Dahill said the FCC is adamant about the date because there are an estimated 25 million hearing-impaired people in the U.S., plus as many as 15 million more that rely on the captions because they’re watching TV in health clubs, bars or airports.

Moczulski said many creative execs at ad agencies are eager to meet the challenge of boiling down their 30-second messages to a breathless 10 seconds that would convey the theme without confusing the audience. He has sold 10-second bites in such NBC U syndicated series as “The Jane Pauley Show,” “Fear Factor” reruns, “Starting Over,” “The Chris Matthews Show” and “The George Michael Sports Machine” to advertisers like Icy Hot, the pain reliever for sore muscles, and Gold Bond, the medicated foot powder/spray.

One of the company’s big selling points, Dahill said, is that the 10-second spots are so close to the actual program that “we’re TiVo resistant.” Nobody’s thumb is fast enough to chop off the 10-second message without missing a bit of the program.