Editor’s Note: This article is a compilation and distillation of reporting from: Broadcasting & Cable, Bloomberg, and AdWeek.
NBCUniversal said it plans to decrease advertising time by 10% in original primetime programming on all of its broadcast and cable television networks and reduce the number of commercials per break by 20%. The reduction in ad time and ad pod lengths will apply to all 50-plus prime-time original shows across NBCU’s portfolio, which includes NBC, USA, Bravo, E!, Telemundo, CNBC and Oxygen. The change will be effective in the 4th fourth quarter.
Also announced were several new ad formats:
- Prime Pod: A 60-second pod, either the first or last break of an episode, available to one or two advertisers; it will use artificial intelligence-based context targeting that incorporates scripts and closed captioning to make a brand relevant.
- Prime-time bridge: Running one advertiser’s brand message as a transition from one show to the next, e.g., a spot would run between The Voice and This Is Us. Length can vary.
- Scripted commercial launch: This format will transition from an in-show moment to a commercial, e.g., a character on Suits could walk into a coffee shop, grab a drink and take a sip, which would lead into an ad for that same product.
- Interactive picture-in-picture: The ad that is part of the split-screen will feature a character from the event interacting with the product or brand being advertised.
- Social commercial: Will offer the ability for a brand to integrate actual social commentary from fans into commercials that air during that same episode.
- Show within a show: This replaces a traditional commercial pod with branded content that is connected to the show. For example, The Voice could feature a pod, sponsored by a brand, which visits a previous season’s winner and chronicles their journey since the show ended.
With fewer ad minutes, NBCU will have to get advertisers to pay more. “The market determines value,” said Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Advertising Sales and Client Partnerships for NBCUniversal. NBCU said that research shows innovative advertising products increase consumer engagement by more than 20%. Since the new products should deliver better performance, NBCU is willing to base its pricing on those metrics, rather than traditional ratings. But it will not guarantee both.
P.S. Other programmers have cut or talked about cutting advertising loads, including Turner and Viacom. Other programmers have tested 6-second ads. In sports, split screen ads have become more frequent as a device to keep viewers tune in. Some, like Fox, are planning on introducing new metrics.
Lynch, J. (2018, February 28). NBCU Will Air 10% Fewer Ads in Its Prime-Time Original Shows This Fall. Adweek.
Smith, G. (2018, February 28). NBC Vows to Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Shows Less Often. Bloomberg.