Web TV for the uber-wealthy: a plum opportunity?
One of the symptoms of the Web 1.0 bubble was the pile-on of celebrities into the online scrum. Sure, famous people can help build audiences, but the greed-fueled rush of the late '90s that sucked people like Steven Spielberg and Dr. Koop into what would become disastrous ventures was, especially in retrospect, a sign of a market top. (Incidentally, you can apparently purchase a stock certificate for Drkoop.com, from the days before the company behind it was delisted from NASDAQ, here.)

And so when The Browser heard this morning about a $20 million investment round from the likes of Kate Spade and Jimmy Buffett and former Miami Dolphin linebacker Nick Buoniconti in a targeted new media project, a little warning bell went off on our computer.

But here's the interesting part: it's not primarily a Web venture - it's television with a Web play. Since 2004, a small consortium of TV stations called PlumTV has been operating in some of America's most exclusive communities, such as Martha's Vineyard, East Hampton, Vail, Aspen, and Telluride. The idea behind Plum - which was founded by Tom Scott, one of the cofounders of Nantucket Nectars - is to target the jet setters while they are in their vacation homes.

Does this make business sense? After all, TV production is notoriously expensive, and the audience Plum is going after is pretty small. But Plum president Chris Glowacki made a fairly persuasive argument in an interview with The Browser. First of all, he claims that "a seismic change" in technology has dramatically lowered the cost of TV production, and that "We operate in places of such natural beauty, and where there are such interesting things happening, that the content comes to us."

Secondly, he argues that Plum represents the most efficient way of reaching the super-rich, because it is "geotargeting," rather than going through traditional, more scattershot TV marketing. "It's been difficult to target the wealthy on TV," Glowacki said, "because in some ways the rich are just like everyone else. They watch what's on." Now, he says, advertisers have a way to specifically hit the affluent masses - and their wallets - where they live. And finally, by distributing some of Plum's content on the Web, the company opens up a whole new way to reach an audience outside its television markets, and leverage the booming online video ad market.

The Browser has never seen Plum (the batteries in the TV remote at our Aspen mansion have run down). But certainly the notion of putting celebrity interviews and parties in glamorous places online, and charging advertisers a premium for it, is very much in harmony with what a lot of targeted Web-ad firms are advising these days. If they're right, then Plum may be right, too.
Posted by Jim Ledbetter 10:45 AM 1 Comments comment | Add a Comment

I lived in Vail for the past 3 yrs. Plum just came online about 9 months ago, but from what I saw it is not for the super -rich( I can speak to this because I am not super rich). It's pretty bad all around. Bad morning show that looks like it is shot with one camera, and re-run after re-run of pro-skiers. This is not something that will take off.
Posted By Paul Allen. Vail Colorado : 3:46 PM  

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