Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Do the math, broadcast networks

Reader Craig Gustafson posted a comment on Monday regarding my rant on the viability of smart sophisticatedcomedy.  I thought his comment was so incisive I’m reposting it since most people don’t read the comments.  But it’s a commentary that deserves to be read. 


Thanks, Craig for unknowingly becoming my guest blogger. 


I broke a huge rule and watched a colorized version of a black & white TV show. Why? Because the person who originally made the show supervised the colorization. And it wasn’t perfect, but it was well done.


So why am I now abandoning all commercial broadcasting?


Earlier the same day, I had the TV on. The Three Stooges. When I was a kid, there would be one commercial break in a 20 minute short. Now, there’s a break every two minutes. A *long* break.


After watching “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” I was mad enough to do the math. I had DVR’d the show, so I could be as anal as I pleased about it. Here’s how things went originally:


A sitcom ran 25-26 minutes. One commercial break after the credits, one in the middle and one before the tag. That’s it. A total five minutes (or less) of commercials. And your concentration on the story was only broken three times.

Show: 83%

Commercials: 17%


I timed the “Coast to Coast Big Mouth” episode. Every five minutes or so, there were over 3½ minutes of commercials.

Show: 67%

Commercials: 30%

Dick Van Dyke’s Intro: 3%


They cut 30% of the episode. It should have been called “Scenes from the Dick Van Dyke Show.”


1. How can anyone with an attention span enjoy this bullshit?

2. If I want to watch this show, why would I watch it with a boatload of commercials? There are so many other options these days.


The only benefit would be people becoming newly interested in the show and tracking down the DVDs. But consistently watching network TV and wasting 30% of my time? I'm out.


Get off my colorized lawn.


marka said...

Quite a few years ago I read an article on a radio station that decided to cut the number of ads by a huge amount, like only running 10 percent of the ads they previously had (or close to that figure). The end result was that their ratings flew through the roof, and their revenue was higher because they charged more for the fewer ads than they did for all the ads they had previously run. I think they had a couple of ads at the top and bottom of the hour and that was it.

Wish commercial television would figure this out.

Brian said...

...and even a BOWDLERIZED version still won the timeslot. That is, happily, a testament to a well-written and durable show, but sadly, a reason to keep running as many ads as possible.

To be fair, the Dick Van Dyke Show ran ads with the stars of this show as well, but it didn't happen at the sacrifice of what was aired. What was written, probably, but you still got the full show.

There are movies and TV shows it has taken me YEARS to see the full version, due to this. For example, "Jim Thorpe: All-American", in the version I used to see, the "first" scene is Thorpe going to college. He had no childhood!

Don Kemp said...

The comments are going to be another "I haven't watched commercial TV in ---years" things so I'll get in my early two cents.

The only commercial broadcasts we watch anymore are Stephen Colbert's show and various HGTV programming. "We" is my wife and me. We DVR all of it. Not since Frasier (seriously, not kissing up here) and the Sheen version of Two and Half Men have we made time to watch the scheduled first run episode of any program. One of our guilty pleasures at present are Adam-12 reruns on MeTV.

So here it comes, the same repetitive mantra- if commercial TV wants me to see the ads, they need to air a show that's worth it. We peruse the list of what's currently being shown, then either hit up the DVR or if we're in a DVD mood, (Dick Van Dyke), play one of the DVDs from our complete set of DVD shows we purchased when I rehabbed from a knee replacement two years ago. That by itself led to finding more about Carl Reiner by the way, buying his autogrpaphed books, and fooling myself into thinking he took a special interest in the offbeat inscriptions he wrote for me.

Life is too short to waste time on things that don't matter. Sadly, many people don't realize that until the actuarial tables are catching up with them. Do things you like, take a long time.

McAlvie said...

Actually, Ken, I do read the comments because they are often as well written and informative as your posts. Great bunch of people handing out here.

I am in agreement re broadcast tv, though. I watch less and less tv every year, and only a fraction of that has been network tv. There's an occasional show worth watching, but very few worth sitting through commercials for. I found myself gravitating more often to PBS. Cable does not guarantee commercial free, so I'm paying for that service, PLUS more commercials. Streaming services are now charging extra for commercial free experience.

Remember when you bought a tv and that was the only expense involved? Am I dating myself?

It is fortunate for me that I love to read. I alternate that with audiobooks. Great stories and no commercials! I listen to some NPR, but I've given up bothering with network news. Traffic reports had become just an excuse for a Vanna White impersonator to parade back and forth. I find I get far more information from the newspaper, even if I do find myself grumbling over the quality of the writing. I can go several days without feeling the need to turn on the tv.

Folks, I highly recommend you experiment with turning off the tv and getting your news and entertainment elsewhere for a week or so.

VincentS said...

Beautifully said. Maybe network television should go back to the old days when there was just ONE spot by ONE sponsor.

TimWarp said...

I oouldn't agree more. I stopped watching television several years ago - if it doesn't stream on hulu (I pay for commercial-free; worth every penny) or amazon prime or netflix, I just don't watch it.

Anonymous said...

Let's harken back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when boss jocks had to speed up rock songs on the radio to fit in more commercials. It got so bad at one point that every song sounded like it was recorded by David Seville.
Ever have to do that, Ken?

GoodScout said...

This is why streaming services are destroying network television.
I can stream the DIck Van Dyke show - the ENTIRE Dick Van Dyke show - without having a second of the original content cut.
Why would I watch it on CBS live? And why would I bother to DVR it? To give my fast-forwarding thumb a workout?

Sadly, the networks have figured it out, and that's why they're getting into the streaming game with CBS AllAccess, NBCPeacock, etc. So they can control the content again and start forcing us to watch 16 minutes of commercials per hour.

Rob Greenberg said...

It's even worse than that! Some cable networks like TVLand schedule shows in 38 minute blocks, adding an additional 8 minutes of commercials to the already edited versions. All while omitting the closing credits, instead running an abreviated scroll over the show's final minutes, sometimes before the storyline has even been resolved! Who is the target audience for a show with 18 minutes of commercial breaks? Sterling Cooper?

Ryan E said...

I'm with Craig. I abandoned broadcast TV years ago and I'll never go back. I have a feeling the people who tolerate it can only do so because it's all they've ever known, but young people growing up with Netflix aren't going to accept it. I think as soon as the sports leagues can make better deals with Netflix/Apple TV/YouTube/whatever than with Fox/NBC/etc, and maybe add interactive features that catch on and become the new table stakes for sports broadcasting, the party is over for cable TV. (I'm not a sports guy, but it seems like it's one of the few things keeping many people on cable.)

Bryan L said...

Well said. I'll also note that for the handful of network programs I do watch, I time-shift. I never watch at the broadcast time -- I'll DVR it and watch it later so I can fast-forward through the commercials. If I'm really eager to see something (almost never), I'll DVR it and start watching 20-30 minutes into the show so I can fast-forward through commercials. It's not perfect, but it's better than putting up with the eighteen thousandth repetition of the "Microsoft Teams" commercial. Just hearing the beep at the beginning of one of those things makes my left eye start to twitch.

Craig Gustafson said...

Hi, Ken.

My flabber is gasted. Thanks so much for reposting my screaming.

gottacook said...

The commenter's math is off. If an uncut sitcom episode originally occupies 83% of a 30-minute timeslot, it's 24.9 minutes long. If the edited "Coast to Coast Big Mouth" occupies 67% of a 30-minute timeslot, then it's 20.1 minutes long. So the proportion of the original show remaining is 80.7% (20.1 divided by 24.9), and the excised proportion is 19.3%.

I'm not saying CBS should have cut even one frame, but this is far from "They cut 30% of the episode."

Pat Reeder said...

I echo the other comments here. Almost every TV show I now watch that came from a broadcast network left the air years ago, and I see it either on DVD, Amazon Prime or TV Land/Nickelodeon. I also used to DVR all the late night shows, partly to make sure I didn't inadvertently repeat one of the monologue jokes in our radio comedy service, but also because I liked them. Now, they're just political screeds and I've given up on them. About the only new programming I watch on a major network is HGTV rehab shows.

But I'll go even further in the realm of network TV dumping: I also have a growing number of YouTube channels that I actively look forward to (EmmyMade, Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en, Ultimate Fashion History, FredFlix, Techmoan, Tasting History, Daze With Jordan The Lion, Todd In The Shadows, and many more.) People who spent less than a thousand bucks to set up cameras, lights and microphones in their houses and who edit their shows on laptops are creating more entertaining, informative and compelling programming than entire buildings full of alleged broadcast professionals in L.A.

That's pretty sad, but it's also exhilarating. Speaking as someone who had to carve out a comedy-writing career with zero help from the official showbiz gatekeepers, and who has put out well-reviewed books and CDs with no publishing or record company support, I love the fact that amateurs in their living rooms are creating shows that I'd rather watch than something created in Hollywood at great expense and green-lighted by overpaid jerks in suits. It isn't a deliberate decision to boycott network TV. I simply consider all my options objectively for entertainment value, and the networks keep losing.

sueK2001 said...

I still watch regular TV but not all that often. I signed up a few months ago for Philo because they were running all the Law and Order episodes from all seasons but the commercials are too much. I will pay a service to NOT get commercials. It's worth it to me. Hulu's ads are not as intrusive as others...and I am sick of seeing You Tube have 30 second commercials for a 2 minute clip of something.

I will say that I watched Ringo Starr's 80th birthday bash on AXIS TV and it had no commercials. That was completely enjoyable and yet felt strange all at the same time.
I'm hoping to get Peacock ad-free so I can finally watch complete episodes of shows without commercials.

I must say my entertainment thus far this summer is Facebook live videos of various musical performers..pure joyous music uninterrupted. No greater joy.

RIck said...

Good points!
I would add, that may be the reason for colorization! They need SOMETHING to get you to watch. The quality is locked down, the number of commercials is locked down, availability? it's easily attained on-line, and at any time. Colorization is one thing they can add to get some urgency. Something different (if not better)

Dana King said...

I've said for years that the networks were in the business of providing programming, and had to have commercials to pay the bills and make a few bucks. For quite a while now it seems the networks are in the business of showing commercials, and figure they have to give you at least some programming to get you to watch them. The last regular weekly network show I watched weekly was JUSTIFIED, which went off the air in 2015. Even then I used to DVR it and watch the next day. I understand the need for commercials, but broadcast TV now has the cart too far in front of the horse.

McAlvie said...

Just recalling some big event show several years back. I can't think now what it was, but I remember looking forward to it only to turn it off only part way through, which is why I don't remember it. I described it to someone later as a string of commercials occasionally interrupted by a plot line.

sanford said...

I don't watch much prime time tv either. I have been watching netflix, sports until that stopped. We have HBO and Showtime. I dvr movies to watch later.

Russ DiBello said...

I'm afraid my only area of Randy West-level quiz show expertise is on Radio, for $50, Alex (er, Ken...). But the subject of toxic waste dumps of commercials remains dear to my heart, still. And I would argue that with the exception of the late night shows*, you TV guys never had it so good.

Over two decades ago, I worked at a corporately-formatted radio station in New York City, where the "clock" (schedule of What Gets Played When and Where) was dictated by, of all people, corporate. Three times an hour, we would "stop down", or, cease music programming and play the spots (later, the industry norm became TWO breaks). There could be eight minutes of commercials in that "stopset", but the rationale given to us by the program director was beyond fascinating.

Research, we were told, had indicated that listeners would be more than happy to sit through a toxic waste dump of commercials, if the song that followed them according to the format clock was from their category of tried, tested and true bona fide hits with no "negatives" and the highest-scoring feelings of goodness and ethereal joy. You give the cucarachas that, and you could sell them anything, for as much time as you like. Oh yes, said the corporate muckies... they will be sitting there compliantly, eagerly awaiting "Celebration" by Kool And The Gang (and The Very Big Corporation of America doesn't have to forfeit a dime in short-term greed revenue).

This super-mega-hostage-taking song category played twice an hour, after the :20 and :50 (-ish) breaks. What they didn't know is that at the time, my sig other worked at the world's go-to music software scheduling company, and had access to all of America's radio station databases. Including our Top Secret Sauce format.

We looked at that category. If memory serves, it contained a whopping 34 songs. Played twice an hour. So we burned-through those puppies FAST. And, according to the Powers Whut Be, research showed the audience loved them so much, that: [a] they'd sit through 8 minutes of the same hard sell you heard 20 minutes ago, and; [b] they never tired OF THE SAME 34 SONGS.

The station came out of the box in late '98/early '99 with killer ratings. It was a corpse before 3 years had passed.

(* = I call upon blog fan Craig, here, to get out his calculator and watch Seth Meyers, or Kimmel, when he goes back to an hour-long format. You'll find a commercial break in the last half-hour which goes on for maybe 15 minutes. In-between spots, the host will occasionally come back with a brief promo and then go, "We'll be right back!" and then BOOM! More commercials. You literally cannot sit through this Toxic Waste Dump Two-Point-0, unless you take a bathroom break and happen to remember to come back a quarter of an hour later. Dollars to donuts some consultant convinced one network that the viewers would be happy to sit through it all, and now it's the law...)

Erich617 said...

I have not had the chance to read other people's comments here. But Craig's comment does have me thinking.

I have to assume that broadcast stations sell air time as they do because it is the only way that they can make a profit. Some might argue that doing something better with fewer, shorter commercials will result in larger audiences and -- in turn -- higher ad rates, which would mean that less air time needs to be sold to make the same amount of money. I do not have any information available that would confirm or deny that, but I can assume safely that programmers do and that they use that information to make their decisions. So I wonder what other factors might be at play.

Craig mentioned having recorded THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, and that is a very common technology these days. If people have the ability to scan through commercials, maybe networks program knowing that they need to make them frequent enough that people won't do that or that -- even if they do -- they see some fragment of a commercial. I have heard of commercials actually being designed to be effective even when being fast-forwarded through.

Broadcast television also has a whole host of competitors now, from basic cable, premium cable, premium streaming services, and free streaming services, among others. Almost none of these are beholden to the same time limits that broadcast is.

About 10 years ago, I learned that network television shows are deficit financed by the studios that produce them (meaning that most shows are a loss for studios and then a few hits bring in all their profit). When I found that out, I predicted that studios would begin their own streaming platforms and that broadcast television would become obsolete. (I remember posting a long screen on Deadline Hollywood about it.) For a while, it seemed like I was off base, but this year, both Disney Plus and HBO Max launched with both original programming and the back catalogues of both Dinsey and Warner Bros. CBS All Access is a similar platform and, I believe, has the rights to Paramount's shows. At this rate, I don't know how broadcast networks will compete, and I expect that their role in the industry will diminish pretty substantially over the next 10 years or so.

Bob Waldman said...

I don't know if this feature is intentional or accidental, but while watching CBSN via Roku, many of the commercials are stripped of all audio except for music. Not perfect by a long shot, but much less annoying. Now if CBS could also get rid of the marathon parade of promos for its own shows. Maybe it's revenge for having to get rid of Les Moonves.

blinky said...

Networks are like Eastman Kodak when digital cameras came into their own. They know what they need to do but they just can't change.

Andrew said...

There are numerous full episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show on YouTube. I don't know if there are any copyright issues involved, and if so I don't mean to encourage it. I've heard that at least a few of them are in the public domain. But anyway, they're out there.

Michael said...

I'm with him. A couple of things that might be of interest:

1. When I was a mediocre young newspaper reporter in the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan's FCC removed the limits on commercials, or at least eased them. I interviewed a local TV station executive who told me, yes, of course, they were going to sell more ads, but they really should be careful because too many commercials can lead to the law of diminishing returns. Hello!

2. The greatest genius in the history of movie comedy, Stan Laurel, used to watch his and Oliver Hardy's films on TV and just DIE when he saw how they were edited. He wrote to each station and offered to edit them himself so the cuts would come at the right time. Not a single one answered.

3. There have been MASH episodes, among others, where I have found part of the plot itself to be missing. Which is why I think if they televised the Royal Shakespearean Theater, we would probably miss an act or two for commercials.

PolyWogg said...

The networks are actually very good at math, even for the simplest form:

a. ST: Ads and station fees
b. LT: Syndication or video

c. Production costs
d. Transmission costs
e. Editing / "splicing" costs

R(a,b) has to be greater than C(c,d,e) by a set return percentage or they can't make it/air it.

When D+E go down and B is flattish, the only two variables left are A and C. If C keeps going up, and it does, then A has to go up too. Can you charge an arm and a leg for one 30 second spot? Nope. You're not the Super Bowl. Can you have Thursday Night TV brought to you by (x)? Nope, nobody will pay that much.

The only way to get more money in A to cover C is to run more ads, even as the increase drives down your marginal revenue curve/average commercial fee. It's basic microeconomics.


Mike Bloodworth said...

I always read the comments. That is until they go above forty. After that I just sort of skim through them.

I still watch broadcast TV because it's FREE. That's why I put up with commercials. I've said all this before, but I will give up television before I'll pay for it. Buying series on DVD is the exception. I love "South Park," but I'm boycotting them since they switched from free syndication to HULU.

It's not just television. I'm constantly being solicited by my phone apps to "upgrade" to ad free (paid) versions. F#!" that!

I'm not a conspiracy guy or a socialist, but I really believe that this is all being fueled by corporate greed. What better way to force people to switch to a network owned pay service than to virtually destroy FREE TV. You know they've had accountants comparing revenue streams.
Sports, too. In the past, depending on the season, you could watch a weekend game on broadcast TV. But now anything worth watching is only on cable. One day, and I'm not making this up, the only sport on was women's, college rugby. That's the kind of thing that used to be filler on ESPN2.
I'm also sure that various sports leagues have bean counters trying to figure out if it's feasible to make the SUPER BOWl or the World Series pay-per-view.

As far as YouTube, I have friends that love it. But, I fear that this type of thing could mean the demise of the showbiz unions. I'm SAG/AFTRA. Mostly because I have to be; not necessarily because I want to be. My point is why would anyone hire a union writer if they can get an amateur to write a script? Why pay union wages for actors or crew when anybody with an iPhone and a laptop can produce relatively good product? Just think of how much money the networks could save going that route.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

I've long been of the opinion that a major reason that people pirated TV shows before the paid streaming services became available is that the people doing the illegal copying/uploading helpfully cut the commercials out. (In the US. Outside the US it was more commonly for earlier access to the shows.)


MikeN said...

I'll do you one better- I DVR NFL games, and start watching an hour later. I catch up near the end of the fourth quarter. I can go even faster if I use the 30 sec skip between plays, but some teams play faster than that.

Troy McClure said...

Ken, will you be reviewing Greyhound, the new Tom Hanks WWII film that he's also written? It's getting solid reviews so far.

Roger Owen Green said...

Since everything is time-shifted anyway, why don't they decide to run old 30-minute shows in 35-minute slots? No cutting the shows, and you get the ads in.. There may be networks already doing this.

Anonymous said...

I used to DVR award shows so I could lose the commercials but now I cannot stomach them.

But here's what will win the gold when the time comes.

Somehow a movie will credit Hollywood with curing COVID (probably by Affleck). English or Australian actor will play Trump. Streep will toss another Oscar on the heap as a COVID-denying right-wing but strong and determined journalist who test positive by defiantly going to her church, suffers just enough to add makeup effects to become haggard and get that all-important transformation so vital for the statuette, then is cured by Affleck (who uncovers the vaccine hidden through some conspiracy) and fiercely fights for the truth about COVID and mask-wearing. Let's throw in Chris Cooper as her husband. Zac Efron offers his shirt to make the first masks. They also make many friends of color along their personal journey. Sondheim's first hip-hop tragic-comedy-irony-inverted-tone poem (co-written with Miranda) picks up Best Song.

"What a night, ladies and gentlemen... ladies and gentlemen...? Hello...?"

Buttermilk Sky said...

suek2001, it sounds like you need AdBlocker. For all the reasons cited I've given up on most TV and watch (and listen to) YouTube. I no longer need to worry about a commercial rammed between phrases of a Mozart symphony, and that is no exaggeration. AdBlocker is free (you may contribute if you want) and if it existed for television, I would pay anything.

Download takes less than a minute and no, I don't work for them.

James Van Hise said...

This is why I DVR programs to fast forward through the commercials. An extreme example is the Ovation channel. They show Midsomer Murders (which I can watch uncut on Britbox) an excellent British crime show which runs 90 minutes. But Ovation shows it in a 2 1/2 hour slot. An hour of commercials? That has to drive viewers away.

Douglas Trapasso said...

Response to @Anonymous - No part for Taylor Swift? She has some momentum since her small part in that documentary last Christmas about cats.

J Lee said...

One of the reasons live sports has become more prized in terms of ad revenue in recent years is you can't fast scan through the ads, and the shows themselves (as the sports channels are finding out during the current COVID suspensions) are perishable -- fans get excited to watch live events, but are pretty 'meh' about ones they already know the results of, or can find out with a cellphone Google search.

But even there the networks have pushed things too far in recent years, to where ratings dips have been ascribed to too many ads annoying people to the point they stop watching. Going to Ken's sport, baseball games get stretched out to 3 1/2-4 1/2 hours in part because the one-minute commercial break every half inning's turned into two or 2 1/2 minute ad breaks, while even in-game things like pitching changes earn their own live reads (AFAIK, foul balls have yet to earn their own sponsorship). The NFL and the networks had to readjust their ad placement two years ago because ratings were on the downturn, and they eliminated the score-ad break-kickoff-ad break-return to play formula that managed to stretch about 10-15 seconds on the time clock into 5-6 minutes of real time (they haven't cut the ads in the past two seasons, but went to split screen ads, where the game is muted, but you can still see activity on the field during a time-out. Marginally better, but I'm waiting for them to decide it's OK to start running ads on split screen during live action).

You'd think the suits would get that if they can't even retain viewers for live events because the commercial break glut is just too annoying that it would absolutely kill entertainment shows (or AM and FM radio stations), given the alternatives viewers and listeners have nowadays. But they seem hidebound to the idea that the answer to diminishing ratings returns is more of the type of scheduling that caused those diminished returns in the first place.

Anonymous said...

@ Douglas Trapasso
You weren't far off. Swift has been announced to light up the screen in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Cecil Newson said...

I left broadcast television several years ago for the same reason. At the time a 30-minute television show had 10 minutes of commercial. Now it's worse.

Older television shows are cut to pieces because they are longer than 20 minutes and have to be made to fit that time frame.

I now only watch non-commercial shows, meaning that I rarely watch anything on television that isn't streamed.

I still watch the Bears.

Ron Rettig said...

Ken, Here is a "Hollywood Palace' bit with Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks.

Anonymous said...

@ Cecil Newson
If you watch the Bears, you'd be better off switching to the commercials.

D McEwan said...

I'm with the time-shifters. Who watches network TV live anymore? Breaking news is pretty much the only thing I watch unrecorded anymore. Commercials are for fast-forwarding through. Why watch live?

Mike Doran said...


Anybody here remember those?
That's what they called that 1-2 second gap between the show and the commercial, and then back again.
I'm a '50s Kid, so I'm old enough to remember commercials that lasted a whole minute;
That sold one product;
That were sometimes done by the Star of the Show;
… You remember, all the things Alfred Hitchcock made fun of (which is why we all loved him while we were growing up).

Once the Madmen took over full-bore (circa 1960), all of this changed:
- The commercial minute began to divide: two 30-second spots in a minute, followed not long afterwards by three 20-second spots;
- The bumpers started to shrink, a half-second at a time;
- The sponsor billboards ("Brought to you by … !") vanished;
- Opening title sequences slowly shrank, and ultimately all but vanished;
- Credits shrank as well, eventually becoming all but unreadable.

And all the while, ads of varying speeds came to fill in the newly-created gaps - to the point that soon there were no gaps.
Try fast-forwarding through a modern-day DVR: you're never sure of when to slow down or stop, meaning that you invariably overshoot and have to backtrack - which means that the show you're trying to watch takes as much time as if you simply watched it as is.

Isn't Progress Wonderful?
*Yes, It Isn't … *

Steve Bailey said...

This is nothing new under the sun. A previous reader mentioned Stan Laurel. I still remember that in the summer of 1974, a local TV station in Illinois (I won't name names) ran Laurel & Hardy feature films in a one-hour slot every Thursday night. Now, most of L&H's feature films already ran for an hour to start with. So how did the TV station work their ads in? Why, they simply lopped off the first 15 or so minutes of the movie, so that its broadcast would begin in mid-plot! Unbelievable.

Ron Rettig said...

Duh, must be getting senile!
Here is the link to Reiner/Brooks Hollywood Palace (if you remember that far back) bit.

scottmc said...

The New York Times just posted a tribute to Carl Reiner written by Steve Martin.
It can be found at

Jay Thurber Show said...

I have the same problem with commercial radio: "Continuous music — 20 songs in a row without interruption!"

Sure! But when they do interrupt, it's for a 10 to 12 minute long "stop set" of ads and promos. How'd you like to be the third car dealer in that stop set? Who's still listening after they've heard ads for two of your competitors?

For that matter, who's still listening to the station at all after the second commercial?

I understand the need to sell soap, but the idea was always for the sale of the soap to pay for the content that people want to watch or hear.

There's a part of me that wonders how much of the way ads are programmed is greed (most of it, surely), and how much is simply laziness or desperation on the part of account execs who are selling time based on low price and volume, not quality and value.

Indeed: Get off of my solid-state, instant-on, compatible color lawn!

MG said...

I was watching the movie, “The Blues Brothers” on a local station. Ray Charles was singing “Shake a Tail Feather “ and the station went to a commercial after the first verse. After several minutes of commercials, the movie came back and the song finished. Never watched a movie on that channel again.

Barry Rivadue said...

My "favorite" commercial break moment was when 2001 was aired on TBS or something. The ape throws a bone into the air for what would be one of the greatest jump cuts in movie history. Nope! It fades out. Commercials galore, and then back to a spinning spacecraft. I hope Kubrick wasn't watching.

David G. said...

I've been watching "Big Bang Theory" on DVD and have been stunned to see that there are often episodes that are only -- no exaggeration here -- 18 1/2 minutes long. Sometimes there are episodes that stretch up a little past the 21-minute range. Odd that the episode segments aren't a little more consistent in length.

BG said...

Last time I tried to watch a movie on basic cable, it was commercial breaks every 10 minutes, and it felt like the breaks were longer than the actual movie segments.

I subscribe to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, but I find myself watching Pluto more than anything.