The Future Of Commercials: A Mix Of Forced Viewing And Fast-Forwarding?

Forced to watch some commercials, but allowed to fast-forward through others? That could be the future for all things video.

For about a decade and a half, in-home DVR units have made it possible to time-shift programming -- as well as to race through commercials on playback. The future might tell a different story. The use of video-on-demand platforms and general digital video usage keeps climbing.  The former doesn’t allow fast-forwarding through commercials. The latter includes ever-present pre-roll ads that also have to run.

Dish’s Hopper with its AutoHop feature can record full swaths of broadcast network prime-time lineups without commercials, but one wonders how long that will last.

Charlie Ergen, chief executive officer of Dish Network, recently talked about new carriage negotiations with the Walt Disney stable of networks that may result in ways to let viewers see their advertisers’ messaging. This will no doubt come in the form of addressable interactive advertising that Dish and other TV providers have long promised to marketers.



TV and media futurists keep betting on cloud technology allowing consumers to store their personal media selections. Imagine if cable, satellite and telco distributors would shift to that technology.  Will consumers then be allowed to fast-forward through commercials?

Maybe consumers will get some of what they want. They’ll have to watch some ads, but be allowed to fast-forward through others. Perhaps they won’t have to sit through 17 minutes of non-program time for a one-hour drama; maybe they won’t be stuck watching all eight minutes of non-program time in a half-hour comedy.

Maybe there will just be fewer commercials -- a couple of pre-roll 30-second ads, as well as a mid-roll ad. Advertisers? They might pay more for this access. But hopefully they’ll get less waste and a better consumer target.

Also consider that the growth of DVRs has slowed.  Once, some prognosticators predicted 80% would have DVRs by 2007.  But, some 14 years ago after their introduction, a little under half the country currently has DVR units in their homes. In 2013, there was 9% growth over 2012.

What is the other half of the U.S. doing? You can look to Netflix, VOD, digital ad-supported  platforms, “premium content” like Hulu, and plain old live TV viewing.

As digital cloud programming services will continue to grow, many program content owners hope to figure out better ways to get advertisers’ messages integrated. But fast-forwarding -- or even newer yet-t0-be-discovered commercial avoidance techniques -- will always be around.

4 comments about "The Future Of Commercials: A Mix Of Forced Viewing And Fast-Forwarding? ".
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  1. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, November 14, 2013 at 4:38 p.m.

    I wish it was 17 minutes of non program tiem for a one hour drama Wayne....more like 22 and some cable is 25. Nightmare.

  2. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, November 14, 2013 at 4:47 p.m.

    The majority of the affluent homes where people can actually afford the higher end items (like cars, tablets, HD tv's) have a much higher percentage of DVR penetration, so those penetration %'s have to be looked at on a micro level. Therefore, the highly sought after "affluent viewers/homes" are the ones skipping Ads more often because they tend to live in larger DMA's lead busier lives in general etc, etc. The DVR damage cant get much worse if you look at it from that perspective. Affluents = purchasing power, and advertisers are missing that segment more and more by throwing most of their money away on TV advertising. Pay more for less ratings each year gang! Woo hoo!

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 14, 2013 at 7:37 p.m.

    The networks HOPE it'll be a mix, by offering their shows in ways that can't be skipped. But what's not clear is how they might also continue to offer the same shows over conventional signals to reach the tech-impaired, wired or not, with shows that may still feed through a DVR. People who have been successfully skipping commercials will not go gently into the night, after a decade of freedom from forced commercials. I suspect some genius will devise a DVR that captures streamed output and stores it for time-shifted viewing. Time shifting, of course, allows ad skipping.

  4. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications, November 15, 2013 at 6:08 a.m.

    I never read print from cover to cover, and currently DVR everything to save time and cover more ground. However, a entertaining commercial will be be watched often...

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