More Commercial Clutter On Cable Than Broadcast

Although cable networks are slowly trimming the number of commercials in their programs, those networks on average still air more advertising messaging than broadcast TV networks -- by over a minute and 23 seconds per hour.

Nielsen says commercial clutter on cable networks averaged 15 minutes and 38 seconds for each hour of network TV programming in 2013 -- down 2 seconds from its level of 15:40 in 2012. Broadcast networks, meanwhile, grew 10 seconds per hour to 14:15 from 14:05 in 2012.

Overall, both cable and broadcast networks have increased their respective commercial content per hour of programming since 2009 -- broadcast at 13:25 and cable at 14:27 that year.

Nielsen says the average prime-time TV spot in broadcast was $75,000 in 2013, with the average national cable network commercial at $7,800. Total TV ad spending climbed 3% to $78 billion in 2013 -- down from the gain in 2012 when it rose 6% to $76 billion.

In 2013, Nielsen says 53% of the 14,466 TV commercials had a duration of 30 seconds -- down from 56% the year before. Last year, 44% of commercials were 15 seconds long -- up from 40% in the years from 2010 through 2012. Two percent of the commercials were 60 seconds in length, virtually the same in recent years. 

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3 comments about "More Commercial Clutter On Cable Than Broadcast".
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc , May 14, 2014 at 10:55 a.m.
    In looking at such statistics, it's important to weight the findings by the amount of viewing each channel is getting. Commercial clutter is pretty high on many of the newer, but very low rated, digital cable channels, but is usually not so high on the established cable networks. Also, commercialization is greater in the non- primetime hours, which again, stacks the deck in cable's favor as most channels operate round the clock. It would be interesting to see what a daypart by daypart audience-weighted clutter comparison looked like between broadcast TV, the major cable channels and the small fry. How about it, Nielsen?
  2. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group , May 15, 2014 at 7:17 a.m.
    Remember when you got 8 ounces in a small tub of yogurt? Then it went to 6 and now rests 5.3 ounces or lower. Viewers get the less content more clutter and they've been migrating for years. The point? Ad sales and on-air promotion can't keep adding avails to breaks and expect to stem viewer outflow, let alone retain existing cores. Both data and logic seem to support the notion of increasing spot prices and reducing avails to retain viewer attention and loyalty.
  3. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , May 15, 2014 at 5:49 p.m.
    But what's really important is impact. At this point, Cable remains far more effective, in our experience, at driving action per dollar spend on advertising.