CBS Inc. is expected to announce today that it will begin providing an advertiser-supported version of its "CBS Morning News" on selected American Airlines flights in July.
"It's in-flight video advertising with same-day video news," according to Charles Walsh, director of advertising sales for CBS International, a division of the company's Broadcast Group.
CBS will use satellites to distribute the show to its TV stations near the major airports in Chicago, Houston, Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco, where a courier will take the video cassette directly to the airplanes.
John Eger, vice president and general manager of CBS International, expects the service to reach more than 100 flights daily--beginning with the 9 a.m. flights and continuing until the early evening.
Potentially, more than 700,000 people a month could view the program. Although that's only a fraction of the viewers who watch the show on the ground, "Airline passengers are a very high-quality audience for advertisers," Eger said.
CBS already repackages some of its programming for use by the airlines, without advertising, but the "CBS Morning News" will not be the first showing of ads in airplanes. Trans Global Inc., a New York-based production company, offers so-called "Infomercial" programs, which soft-sell companies and their products in an informational setting.
The CBS move is the first time advertising will be "sold specifically for airline use," says American Airlines spokesman Paul Haney.
Perhaps most important, because in-flight programming isn't broadcasting in the formal sense, CBS can offer advertising time for products excluded from the airwaves, such as tobacco and liquor, Eger said.
Political and issue-oriented advertising also would be possible, although CBS' Walsh hastened to add that American has final approval on the ads.
Though some might think in-flight advertising as exploiting a captive audience--though passengers could tune out the audio portion, which will be transmitted through headsets--American's Haney reports, "We tested this in May and the reaction of passengers was overwhelmingly positive. People want the daily news even if it comes with ads."