Viacom Will Try Running Fewer Ads During Prime Time TV

Advertisers pay a lot to air commercials, and the price they pay is based on the projected popularity of the show being interrupted. When a TV network’s ratings are great, it might try to cash in by airing as many top-dollar ads as its viewers can take. But when ratings sag, that network has to contend with both annoyed viewers and shortchanged advertisers. That’s why, according to a new report, after years of cramming ads into every nook and cranny, media giant Viacom (MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon) is going to try shaving a few minutes of ads during prime time.

This is according to Variety, which reports that, starting in October the typical Viacom prime time hour will go from showing 17-18 of commercials to around 14-15 minutes. And if the network’s plan works, it could expand to cover other times of day.

By running fewer ads — and by being able to spotlight a few, key advertisers — Viacom is hoping it can get a higher price.

This could be a big change of direction for Viacom, which is sort of notorious for shoving ads down viewers’ throats. In 2010, the company’s Spike cable network was called out for ad breaks that lasted upwards of 10 minutes.

And that hasn’t changed in recent years, with one media buyer telling Variety that they recently clocked a single Viacom ad break at eight minutes.

In fact, getting the company’s hourly ad load to between 14 and 15 minutes would really just be putting it back in place with the rest of the cable networks.

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