Digital platforms are behind the growing trend in the TV industry to reduce commercial time. Overall TV commercial loads overall are still increasing. According to an analysis by Pivotal Research’s Brian Wieser, national ad loads rose 3.9% year over year in January to 11 minutes per hour.
“TV viewing is increasingly happening on connected TVs—75% of NBCUniversal’s digital ad impressions are delivered that way—where the ad load is lower,” said Mark Marshall, EVP of Entertainment Ad Sales for NBCUniversal.
“The average episode of NBC’s ‘The Voice’ is watched for 35 minutes on live, linear TV. That jumps to 43 minutes on connected TV devices and 48 minutes on digital video recorders. With video on demand, time spent is at an average 51 minutes,” he said. “It’s the same show, it’s the same piece of glass, so why are they watching longer on digital properties? Part of it is because there’s a lower ad load on that side,” said Marshall. “The whole goal is to make TV look more like digital TV.”
On Hulu, roughly 70% of its 54 million monthly unique viewers subscribe to Hulu’s ad-supported tier, where commercial breaks are limited. Alan Wolk, Co-Founder and lead analyst for consulting firm TVRev, said, “because Hulu keeps their ad loads light, people don’t mind it.”
In 2016, Turner’s TruTV reduced commercial time against its original half-hour shows by three and a half minutes. TruTV produces its programming in-house, which required that producers make shows that run for around 26 minutes instead of the traditional 22 minutes and 30 seconds, the network said.
“This is not for everyone,” said Linn. “You have to make a full commitment to go all-in and stick with it for the long haul; at TruTV, we had a unique opportunity because we own all of our content.”
Patel, S. (2018, March 8). “Make TV More Like Digital TV”: Networks Are Removing Clutter to Improve TV Viewing. Digiday.