Spike TV: Home Of The 10-Minute Commercial Breaks

How long can a cable channel run commercials before viewers forget what they were watching and — literally — tune out? That’s the question that the folks at Spike TV appear to be tacitly asking their audience, as it stretches the length of some of its commercial breaks well past existing standards — some to as long as 10 minutes.

According to Ad Age, Spike’s cleansed-for-basic-cable rebroadcasts of HBO’s Entourage contains ad breaks that are longer than some of the segments on the show itself.

Here are the ingredients of one 10-minute ad break during an Aug. 27 airing of Entourage:

Spike started off with a promo for its UFC programming, then ran spots for DirecTV; Unilever’s Axe shampoo; B.F. Goodrich; Schering-Plough’s Zegerid OTC; Jack Link’s beef jerky; VF Corp.’s Lee Jeans; Screen Gems’ latest “Resident Evil” movie; AT&T; Miller Lite beer; and Progressive Insurance.

But wait, there’s more: Ads also ran during the break for PepsiCo’s Mtn Dew soda; Pep Boys; Trojan condoms; Outback Steakhouse; Mobil motor oil; Sony Corp.’s Vaio laptop; Diageo’s Captain Morgan Lime Bite rum; Kraft Foods’ Dentyne gum; a DVD for the FX program “Sons of Anarchy”; and UFC action figures. The break was then garnished with what appeared to be two ads from local cable operators.

For the sake of comparison, Ad Age timed the ad breaks on a few other channels and found them to average 3-4 minutes with the occasional 5-minute break.

A VP of Sales at Viacom, Spike’s parent company, responded as you’d probably expect:

We don’t want to put our customers in an environment that is not appropriate for their commercial messages… If there’s a problem, we’ll fix it.

Thanks to Gene for the tip!