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Fox Networks Will Cut Ads to Just 2 Minutes Per Hour by 2020

Phillip Dampier March 6, 2018 Consumer News 5 Comments

Fox Networks will cut advertising to just two minutes per hour by the year 2020, according to its ad sales chief.

The 42 minute TV “hour” — 42 minutes of content and up to 18 minutes of advertising — is going away as over-the-air broadcast and cable networks respond to declining audiences for ad-cluttered programming.

Fox Networks Group’s ad sales chief, Joe Marchese surprised an audience at a private industry event last week in Los Angeles. The TV advertising business is reportedly in crisis over the decreasing effectiveness of television advertising, as viewers develop “ad blindness” skills or pre-record their favorite shows primarily to fast-forward past the commercials. But the biggest threat of all has proven to be cable cord-cutting and a major viewing shift to on-demand, ad-free streaming content by viewers willing to pay a few dollars more just to avoid the commercials.

Advertising time has already begun to decline from its peak of 18 minutes per hour. In 2017, some networks cut ad time to 13:30 an hour, although cable networks still pack in an average of 16 minutes of ads per hour.

“The two minutes per hour is a real target for Fox, and also our challenge for the industry,” said Ed Davis, chief product officer for ad sales at Fox Networks Group, in an email. “Creating a sustainable model for ad-supported storytelling will require us all to move.”

Marchese did not specify whether the two-minute ad window also included local, affiliate-sold ad inventory. Networks split advertising time with their affiliates, allowing local stations to sell several minutes of advertising in-between network-sold ads. If total advertising time is reduced to just two minutes per hour, networks will have to charge exponentially more for those coveted ad slots to recoup revenue, or raise retransmission consent fees charged to cable and satellite operators, which promptly pass those costs on to subscribers, often as a Broadcast TV surcharge.

Some in attendance were not certain Marchese was describing a done deal.

“It was sort of an aspiration or goal. Not a declaration,” one ad buyer who attended the event told the Wall Street Journal. “His whole closing section was about the value of the commercial and if they can provide more value by limiting commercials and creating new commercialization it will be better for networks’ health and better for advertisers.”

FX Originals cut on-demand advertising by 75% starting last year, which was deemed a success by the cable network, owned by 21st Century Fox.

Currently there are 5 comments on this Article:

  1. LG says:

    I’ve been saying this for years.. cut the ads in number and in length, and increase the price of the ads. I’m certain the advertisers would prefer their ads be watched instead of either muted (yep, they’re still loud, too).. or changing the channel altogether.. and that’s for the people who haven’t cut the cord already. The thing about “..which promptly pass those costs on to subscribers, often as a Broadcast TV surcharge” Sure, and people will flee even faster.

    They’ll realize quite too late that they’ve already squeezed all of the blood from the stone. They’ve beaten the dead horse to dust. There’s nothing more to give. Good riddance.

  2. kaniki says:

    What will they put in place of them?? For example, if a show is made for a 20 minute slot, and they cut the commercials to 2 minutes, then what is there in that extra 8 minutes of time??

    • I remember when stations left pieces of shows on the cutting room floor to allow for more ads (as well as speeding up playback). I guess they could slow shows down.

      In Europe, this problem isn’t a problem. They don’t start every show at the top or bottom of each hour. It is absolutely okay to start a show 20 minutes after the hour, for example. In a lot of cases, they don’t include advertisements or have a much lower ad load.

      • kaniki says:

        A lot of live action shows are like that.. Same with movies.. But, when you go toward the cartoons.. not so much. credits are a good example of the sped up playback.. But, that will only account for a couple of minutes.. Fine if it is a half hour show, but it does not cover too much of the extra time, when it is a movie in a 2 hour slot..

  3. Roger says:

    Ten minutes of Sara McLachlan singing “Angel” while you look at shelter dogs.

    For new programs, they’ll just order them to a longer length. Repeats from previous seasons will be more of a challenge.

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