NBC to Reduce Commercial Time on Programs

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

There’s an old saying in broadcast that television programming is what happens in between commercials.  This has become true as just as people tune into the Super Bowl to watch the commercials as they do to catch the big game. But with the rise of ad-free streaming by cord cutting, networks are under pressure to revise their business models, while still keeping their advertisers happy. And Comcast owned NBC is taking the lead, by reducing commercial breaks between acts by as much as 20 percent.

It’s easy to see why. With the rising cost of cable and satellite reaching up to $200 a month, people are cutting the cable and simply streaming their favorite TV programs on Demand. Even with Live streaming options like YouTubeTV and SlingTV, users are still enjoying either commercial free video on demand, or skipping the commercials altogether.

NBC is seeking to make it easier for viewers to stay tuned by trimming commercial break time by 10 percent, and the total number of commercial breaks by 20 percent. NBC tested this new format last year on their late night comedy show Saturday Night Live and it was well received.

Beginning in the Fall, NBC plans to roll out their revised commercial break plan network wide to over 50 original primetime shows, and then revert to the classic commercial break plan during “re-runs.”  I’m guessing that live programming live sporting and news events, the standard commercial break system will be followed. But don’t quote me.

It will be interesting, considering with 10-20% more time for story telling, an episode will have another minute or so. How will NBC balance that in re-run season, will they edit out portions of a program in reruns? Or simply extend the programming slot?

However manner NBC decides, it’s a delicate balance between keeping your audience engaged, when they could simply stream a show from Netflix or Hulu without commercials, and keeping their lucrative advertising rolling in, that has been shrinking as even advertisers have noticed the shift in viewing habits.

At the end of the day, both the networks and the advertisers have had to take a long, hard look at an aging business model and evolve with how their audience wishes to consumer their content. We’re undergoing a seed change again, where the viewer is now in charge, actively pursuing what they want, and the networks are forced to deliver.

But the real question is … will other networks follow suit?

Hat Tip – Sound and Vision

About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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