Ask consumers why they might be willing to pay for streaming media when they already have cable, and they may tell you they like the shows, or they like being able to binge, or to watch what they want when they want—but you can bet, at some point, they will also tell you they like not having to watch commercials.
Sure, streaming services like Hulu still have commercials if you have the cheaper subscriptions, but for Netflix and Amazon customers, commercials are a no-go. And, if you’re watching a show that appeared on regular TV or cable first, you get that additional little boost of knowing where the commercial breaks would have been if you had to watch them. But, no, the next scene just starts without a break.
In recent years, as more people are streaming or DVRing their video media, the patience and tolerance for commercial breaks is growing increasingly thin. Perhaps it is these factors that have motivated Fox to consider limiting the commercial breaks on their stations. According to a recent media release, Fox plans to reduce advertising on its stations to two minutes per hour, or less. The company says they will aim to hit that target by 2020. And, that apparently includes football, one of the biggest fan targets for complaints about commercial breaks.
Speaking to CNN, David Levy, executive VP of non-linear revenue at Fox Networks Group, said: “We feel like we work in this attention economy, and essentially where this market has gone sideways is that we’re not properly valuing the consumer’s time and attention…”
The end of advertising
That shouting you just heard is football fans loudly cheering this statement. But Levy wasn’t done: “There’s more things competing for your attention than ever, so the price of attention has gone up.”
This appears to be Levy’s way of acknowledging something TV viewers have been complaining bitterly about for decades. Too many commercials, and over-long commercial breaks. It’s a complaint networks hadn’t really taken too seriously. Until Netflix and Hulu started cutting into their market share, stealing customers, even winning awards.
So, now, things are different. Customers have different expectations, even when watching “regular, live” TV. Networks that inundate viewers with commercials are liable to lose viewers to their phones, other stations or streaming. The point is, they have options, and tens of millions of people love those options. Even if it means temporarily losing some ad revenue in the process, Fox and other cable networks have to do something to keep their audience.