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Tastes Great, Less Filling
2007-01-03 09:44
by Jon Weisman

Broadcast networks are preparing to give us fewer commercials, among other changes that may be on tap for 2007, according to Brian Steinberg and Suzanne Vranica of the Wall Street Journal.

Network TV executives are beginning to realize that the dozens of ads and promotions that run during their most-watched programs don't create the best environment for getting a specific ad message across to consumers. Network TV runs an average of about 15 minutes of ads and promotions per hour, according to research from WPP Group's MindShare. Advertisers say research shows that running fewer ads -- reducing what they call the "clutter" -- would make it easier for viewers to remember the marketing message of those that do air.

During the past 18 months, some big TV networks have begun to experiment in earnest with cutting back the number of ads. Several have done sponsorship deals in which a single advertiser buys all the ad time during a show, often using less than the usual amount of commercial time. American Express Co., for example, sponsored an entire episode of "The West Wing" with a limited number of ads. Nissan North America and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Brothers movie studio respectively sponsored debut episodes of "Heroes" on NBC and "Smith" on CBS -- with limited ads.

Media buyers say this technique usually results in better viewer recall of the ads. In the coming year, look for one advertiser to cook up a deal with a network that finds the advertiser buying exclusive rights to a series -- and likely airing fewer ads in the show as a result.

2007-01-03 12:42:23
1.   dzzrtRatt
It'll be like the 50s all over again! The Camel News Caravan. The Colgate Comedy Hour.

Jon, I thought you'd find this Media Post blog item of interest, thinking of 2007 TV trends:

It's about how networks and stations are reacting to the fact that when you replace a low-performing show with a new show, the new show often does worse in the key demographic. So it's better from their standpoint to stick with "the devil you know." They use Friday Night Lights, Studio 60 and Megan Mullaly as examples.

2007-01-03 14:28:42
2.   Jon Weisman
Thanks, Ratt. Perfect timing - we were just talking about that at lunch!
2007-01-03 14:36:58
3.   El Lay Dave
I assume the downside risk is that the single advertiser will begin to hold too much sway over content since they are footing a significant portion of the bill?

Given that I FF through all commercials on my DVR, I think their theory holds all the more true. If all the ads are for, say, Chevy trucks, I might actually notice!

2007-01-03 20:10:08
4.   Suffering Bruin
I can't remember the last commercial I saw on a network show thanks to TiVo.

But even with TiVo, after the Fiesta Bowl I had a hankering for some Tostitos.

2007-01-03 21:34:43
5.   jtrichey
Man, it's about damn time. Commercials for the hour long dramas have definitely increased in the last 3-4 years. Anybody have the actual data on it? TV execs only answer to any kind of problem is just to sell more ad time. It just isn't effective, especially with so many using DVRs now.

Now if somebody can just convince sports broadcasters we don't need a commercial during the 30 second timeout, or 6 commercials every half inning so that we often miss the first pitch.

2007-01-03 21:49:08
6.   Bob Timmermann
I have some Tostitos to eat on January 8!
2007-01-03 21:53:40
7.   trainwreck
I am glad someone thought to put Kelly Hu in a tv show.
2007-01-03 23:55:33
8.   Greg Brock
I'm glad to hear about the reduction in ads. Is there any way we can get the Levitra/Cialis/Viagra ads off my television completely? When I'm watching football, I don't want to stop and think about another man's improperly functioning schvantz.

Plus, it's completely inappropriate during the daylight hours when kids are watching sports.

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