Can broadcasters make money with six-second TV commercials? At a reported $75,000 per ad, it seems to make sense for any TV network. But don’t expect this to become a widespread practice for all big U.S. broadcast network programs.
Fox Sports said it would institute some six-second commercial units for live sports programming, including the NFL. It positions those units as commercials with premium value -- real-time consumption of messaging.
Fox first offered six-second commercials with the “Teen Choice Awards” last month.
That awards show isn’t up to the level of NFL programming -- in terms of overall ratings or live viewing. But it did offer less time-shifted viewing than other regular prime-time programming.
Many of Fox’s efforts focused on short-term-attention viewers, especially millennials. The bigger issue is whether all this will move to broader TV usage.
Decades ago, 60-second commercials were the dominant form of TV messaging, before transitioning to more 30-second commercials, and then to 15-second commercials. The latter is believed be two-thirds as effective as 30-second spots.
But is a six-second spot a good deal?
It’s one thing to sell a $75,000 six-second spot, especially when an NFL 30-second unit price can be anywhere from $250,000 (for Sunday afternoon NFL games) to $600,000 (for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” games).
Regular prime-time programming would offer a different comparison. The broadcast TV networks' 30-second unit in prime-time ranges from $80,000 to $120,000 for the major channels.
How then, would TV networks price commercials that are 60% shorter in length than 15-second commercial?
Digital media has been a big factor in pushing the six-second spot.
And in that regard, all this might be boosting big digital video platforms -- like YouTube, from which Fox has picked up the six-second approach. It would also help TV advertisers streamline commercial production costs.
Perhaps traditional TV networks and their associated digital TV media platforms will finally get the upper hand -- as their promotion for “premium” TV-video continues on YouTube, Hulu, and other media platforms.