A Commercial Free Future

Commercial free platforms are accumulating viewers and retaining them from network television channels. Audiences have flocked to streaming sites with no ad breaks during their programs. Top producers such as Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy have left their networks to work for services like Netflix. Competing with these incentives seems difficult, but networks have a game plan and they’re not going out without a fight.

Where did everyone go?

There are several reasons why masses are flocking toward ad free viewing spaces. The creative community of producers and writers see it as their golden opportunity to shape shows freely without concern of advertiser’s objections. Viewers simply like the convenience and undisturbed programming. This trend has been evolving since the late nineties. HBO hit show, Sopranos, let loose with language, violence, and otherwise proscribed elements. Audiences experienced their first taste of subscription based, premium programming. The rest is history.

What are networks going to do?

Though networks cannot be entirely commercial free, they can try to compete. The first related announcement came from Fox just last month. Fox announced that they are planning to reduce ad time to just two minutes per hour by 2020. With decreased commercial free time comes increased demand. Companies will have the opportunity to air spots without surrounding ads mitigating their message and broadcasters will keep busy with commercial sales and sponsorships; a win-win situation for everyone.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

With subscription-based television on the rise, it is impossible to know where this will all lead. Even commercial supported companies are currently working on subscription services to directly compete with Hulu and Netflix. Is this the future of television? Or will networks rise the occasion and find a way to maintain with commercial time? The answer may take some time to surface but reduced commercials in 2020 are closer than we think.

Bernie Levi, the author, is the Project Coordinator of Marketing Keys.