Cable, Broadcast Network Ad Clutter At Or Near All-Time Highs

Despite boasts among many networks -- especially Fox's -- that they would be reducing commercial clutter to improve their viewer's experiences in order to boost ratings, attentiveness and revenues, the trend has been in the other direction.

"Ad loads (i.e. commercial minutes per hour of programming) have been increasing steadily across the industry since 4Q17 (the same time ratings began to deteriorate)," UBS TV industry analyst John Hodulik points out in a thorough analysis of network supply-and-demand, including their ad inventory.

"Year-to-date, cable network ad loads have been up 3% on average across all networks tracked by Nielsen," he found.

With the exception of NBCU's cable networks, all of the major cable groups are at or near their all-time clutter highs.



The picture is not much different for the major broadcast networks. With the exception of some reductions earlier this year at Fox, the broadcast marketplace has been boosting the supply of commercial minutes to offset audience erosion.

5 comments about "Cable, Broadcast Network Ad Clutter At Or Near All-Time Highs".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 7, 2018 at 11:53 a.m.

    Not surprising, Joe. If one tracked the verbiage about reducing commercial loads last spring, it was all pretty vague. In the case of NBCU, they were talking only about new series and most of these were cable shows. Fox seemed far bolder---but quickly pulled back and, as you can see, nothing actually happened. Yet a lot of people got the impression that "TV" had, at last seen the light---spurred, of course, by horrific losses in cable subscribers fueled by a massive viewer revolt against too much ad clutter---and was reducing its commercial clutter by 10% across-the -board. I've heard people actually make that nonsensical claim.

  2. Brian Danzis from Spotify, December 7, 2018 at 12:45 p.m.

    Let's also not forget the increased load on the networks' Full Episode Players driven by declining linear ratings and fluidity buying. Most sites and apps now carry full loads with a pre-roll, 4 pods and 6 spots per pod = 12.5 minutes per hour. Viewability is also forced. Unplug your headphones and the ad stops.  Clearly gone are the days of a Hulu advertiser sponsoring an entire program with "limitied commercial interuption."  Perhaps their is hope with rewarded video?  Great research this week from emarketer that the value exchange offered by firms like True-X and Spotify is resonating with viewers.  

  3. Eric Fischer from HJA Strategic Consulting, December 7, 2018 at 2:51 p.m.

    Cutting commercial load always sounds great...and then you present all the reasons you should do it to the CFO, and then you add more commercials. 

  4. Darrin Stephens from McMann & Tate, December 7, 2018 at 5:26 p.m.

    Lying, thieving weasels...

  5. Geoff Katz from Fox Networks Group replied, December 17, 2018 at 12:48 p.m.

    Ed P,
    Fox did not 'pull back'...we stepped forward to lead the TV industry on a path that could be the alternative to FANG domination of the TV experience.

    Fox was bold and we did successfully reduce commercial time across Fox Broadcasting, FX Networks, Fox Sports and Nat Geo - while increasing advertising revenue, improving the viewer exzperience and delivering outsized brand llft for our advertisers. We did the work. We have the research

    We did significantly reduce commercial timne Fox Sunday primetime broadcast in October...but you are correctm not yet every night of the week...those new 2 spot JAZ pods do make watching commercial TV better.

    These 'slight' chabnges to the broadcast commercial break patterbn + all of the other ad product innovations e.g: :06 second ads. live sports in-acxtion :06, exclusive 'unlimited/ advertiser breaks, Fox Blocks, opt-in interactive engagement advertising across the width and breadth of our O&O broadcast and digital all of our MVPD and vMVPD distribution...and FN Genius live mobile trivia gane show that honestly was the best performinbg ad product I have EVER worked on :) all lead me to remind you that Joe Marchese and the rock star FNG ad sales crew were just getting started making commercial sponsored #FreeTV better. Happy to show and tell more about the #futureofTV when you're in LA...let's meet up.

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