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Crackle's attempts to pop in crowded streaming space

Whilecontent choices continue to proliferate across multiple platforms, 's free streamingservice Crackle is carving out a place for itself.

EricBerger, executive vice president of digital networks for Sony PicturesTelevision and general manager of Crackle, perhaps best known for JerrySeinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" shorts, said theservice's "break-free" approach to advertising is resonating withusers, as well as sponsors.

Berger,speaking the New York Media Festival on Sept. 29, said this break-freestructure, in which Crackle only runs five ads within an original episode, isproducing significant increases in ad recall and purchase intent. Those adbreaks often feature content from an actor or director accompanying thecommercial.

Thereduced ad load is resulting in a better viewing experience, he said, notingthat over the course of a 13-episode run on linear outlets, there could be 3.5hours of advertising.

Bergerunderlined his point about disenchantment with the traditional advertisingformat by asking how many of the attendees begin watching a show 15 minutesafter its start, so they can catch up by skipping through the ads. More than60% raised their hands, and Berger joked that the others could not because"they worked for media companies and they were with their boss."

Manyin the traditional pay TV industry hope that as millennials and other youngerconsumers have families they will embrace traditional bundles of video,broadband and voice, but Berger said that having grown up in a mobileenvironment replete with on-demand choices "it's hard to put the genieback in the bottle." He said that having wielded control of their "personalbundles” for some time they may have developed habits that last a lifetime.

Still,he does envision a world of smaller pay TV packages.

"Thetrend toward skinny bundles is inevitable," he said. “They are not willingto pay for a thing they don't use."

Heargued that Crackle will retain its place in the evolving media landscapebecause "there will always be room" for free premium entertainmentcontent.

Askedwhat the future of TV holds, Berger described a complex world, with many arms,including varied long- and short-form productions, virtual reality offeringsand on-demand fare. He also pointed to viewers "controlling thepipeline" with more direct-to-consumer services.

Asfor content creators, he said it will be a matter of "managing rights acrossall of the different pieces."