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C-SPAN Exploring Ad-Supported Streaming, Carriage on Hulu + Live TV

Fern Siegel

As cord-cutting changes traditional TV, the streaming world changes, too.

C-SPAN has begun moving toward an ad-supported — or at least ad-supplemented — model on its online platforms: website, social media and podcasts. The network envisions a new future in video distribution, reports Multichannel News.

Per-subscriber affiliate fees are falling, and C-SPAN is looking for alternatives to augment its income. The current option is to utilize ads, but remain a viable nonprofit entity. While its on-demand presence is small, the network is exploring AVOD options, given its library of over 260,000 hours of content.

While the network is available on select high-priced AT&T TV NOW plans, it hasn’t come to any other Live TV Streaming Services. It is currently in discussions with Hulu Live TV, about the possibility of bringing C-SPAN’s channels, 1, 2 and 3, to the service.

The CEOs of Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications are part of C-SPAN’s board — and are providing strategy input for launching a free, ad-supported streaming TV services, as well as virtual channels.

After all, during the Sept. 29 presidential debate, C-SPAN reports its coverage was the top trending video worldwide for several days, with approximately 1.3 million simultaneous live viewers for the stream.

Currently, C-SPAN isn’t doing pop-up ads, but is selling ads on its site and YouTube page.

According to Peter Kiley, VP of affiliate relations and communications, the network wants its monetization efforts to be unobtrusive. “By rolling out limited advertising on our digital platforms, including our YouTube channel, on podcasts and on C-SPAN.org, we are beginning to diversify our revenue streams,” he told the trade magazine. C-SPAN first began experimenting with site ads in August.

To sustain its long-form style, C-SPAN will give viewers an opt-out ad option — for now. Viewers who are ad-block enabled will still get content, but that decision will be revisited in future, depending on how things shake out.