Fewer TV Commercials For Cable Networks: Hoping For 'Premium' Ad Deals?

Less advertising and more programming? Seems a few cable networks are finally getting the message -- this after decades of a growing glut of commercial messaging.

But is it too late?

With many cable networks getting close to the 20 minutes of commercial time in a typical hour-long prime-time period, now Turner Broadcasting’s truTV says it’s cutting its commercial time almost in half -- to around 10 minutes per hour from what it was this past September, 18 minutes per hour.

tuTV hope to make up the difference with price increases for giving marketers a “premium environment.”

But as Joe Mandese, MediaPost editor in chief, has asked numerous times in columns as well as at MediaPost conferences: “Define premium.” That’s because premium means different things to TV ad sellers, marketers, media measurers, and others.

Though Turner isn’t totally explaining why it is taking this step, we get the drift: TV wants to add to its perceived value against its growing digital competitors, who, in effect, have very little “premium” advertising inventory, according to many analysts.



But drilling down -- what is premium in the digital space? For many, it virtually all comes from traditional TV programmers -- like Turner -- running TV programming on digital video platforms where there is “premium” value  for pre-roll commercials and mid-roll TV commercials.

For its part, Turner -- with reference to its still new truTV network theme, “Way More Fun” -- did point to the fact more millennials have been taking in truTV.  Having fewer commercials for these media consumers is always a positive.

But might this all come a bit too late -- especially now that established cable TV networks and broadcast TV networks have seen a steady drop, if not alarming decline, in TV viewership?

Perhaps you may believe these TV networks have an ultimate plan -- that their content will shift more quickly to the digital video space. So, why not try to embolden fans of your content now -- and to curry the favor of possible new TV viewers/users?

That will be the mark of true TV marketing to come.

4 comments about "Fewer TV Commercials For Cable Networks: Hoping For 'Premium' Ad Deals?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 29, 2015 at 6:25 p.m.

    I'm afraid that TruTV will find that most, if not all, advertisers define "premium" in terms of program content and/or audience size---or both---not ad clutter. It will probably help ad recall on TruTV if it limits the number of ads as well as other promos per break, but unless the channel can show that ad recall or related metrics double because of this---a virtually impossible scenario----it's not going to be able to justify getting double the CPM, thereby breaking even on its ploy.

  2. Lee Hunt from Lee Hunt LLC, October 29, 2015 at 6:31 p.m.

    FOX tried this for one season with Fringe. Cut the national ad load from 10 minutes to 5. They claimed it was successful, but they never did it again.  

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 29, 2015 at 7:34 p.m.

    Turner = premium ? 

  4. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, October 30, 2015 at 10:20 p.m.

    Steady = Alarming

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