Dud.TV: Budweiser Falls Flat

Categories: Media, News

Two months after launching Bud.TV, Anheuser-Busch has yet to garner the audience it expected from its online television network. According to recent reports, the Web site drew just 152,000 unique visitors in March -- down 40 percent from the 253,000 who toured Bud.TV in February when the site launched to great fanfare.

A-B executives remain optimistic that Bud.TV will attract 2 million to 3 million visitors per month by early next year and have budgeted $30 million to $40 million to reach that audience. Hollywood stars the likes of Kevin Spacey, Vince Vaughn and a host of Saturday Night Live veterans have signed on to produce content for the site. Their efforts -- so far -- have yet to create a buzz.

Today the Web site ranks as the 49,317th most popular site on the Internet, according to Web monitor Quantcast -- just behind a Web site for an industrial rubber manufacturer (rubbercal.com), and one spot ahead of the porn site Just Shut the Fuck Up, whose homepage features a woman rendered speechless by the large appendage that occupies her mouth.

Given its financial backing and star power, how is it that Bud.TV finds itself in dark recesses of the Internet? Its cumbersome age-verification system accounts for some of the blame. First-time visitors to the site are required to create a screen name, password and fill out their birth date. Same holds true for folks whose friends send them links to Bud.TV clips.

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For the average Internet surfer, such measures can induce a gag reflex similar to that illustrated on Just Shut the Fuck Up.

Even when viewers have gone to the effort of posting Bud.TV clips on the popular site YouTube, the videos have failed to capture

attention. Case in point: A series of short films about a grizzled, barstool psychologist, Donnie Briggs -- Life Coach, arguably the funniest video skit on Bud.TV, has received a paltry few hundred viewings via YouTube.

Other videos have fared even worse. The reason -- to borrow once again from jftsu.com: Much of Bud.TV sucks the proverbial big one.

Prime example: the skit Future Show, which stars Saturday Night Live Chris Parnell and Kevin Farley (brother of the late great Chris).

Parnell portrays a scientist interviewing a retail clerk from the future, played by Farley. At the end of the four-minute skit we learn the "future" is little different from the present, as Farley informs us that he spends his days watching his girlfriend shower. The shtick ends with Farley opining, "That chick has nipples the size of pencil erasers. They'd make any cryogenically frozen man pop his rod."

Then there's the uber-corny The Arrogant Fake British Rich Guy, in which a Monty Python wannabe attempts to pick up a woman at a bus stop by insulting her.

Most Bud.TV shorts follow the same formula: jokes that might get a chortle or two in a high school locker room, combined with gratuitous cleavage shots.

Given that 23 state attorneys general wrote to the beer giant in February demanding tough measures to restrict underage viewers, it's unlikely Bud.TV can do away with its age-verification check.

The only alternative would be to improve the content of the site. And right on cue, yesterday Advertising Age reported that the brewer intends to add more "bells and whistles" to Bud.TV.

Plans include video-sharing capabilities, desktop notification and full-screen video, in addition to new programming and a heavy promotional push.

-Chad Garrison

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