How Many Minutes of Commercials Are Shown in an Average TV Hour? The Number Has Been Steadily Climbing

May 13, 2014  •  Post A Comment

The number of commercials shown in a typical hour of television has increased steadily over the past five years, the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports, citing a study from Nielsen.

Broadcast networks averaged 13 minutes and 25 seconds of commercial time per hour in 2009, which grew to 14 minutes and 15 seconds in 2013, the story reports.

On cable TV, the growth has been even more significant, the report notes. Last year, the average was 15 minutes and 38 seconds, up from 14 minutes and 27 seconds in 2009, according to the report.

And more commercials are being jammed into that growing ad hole, with the number of 30-second spots decreasing while the number of 15-second ads rises.

"In 2009, 30-second spots accounted for 62% of all ads on television; 15-second spots were just 35%. In 2013, the percentage of 30-second ads fell to 53% and 15-second spots increased to 44%," the story reports. "The increased number of commercials has translated to more money flowing into television. According to Nielsen, advertisers spent $78 billion on TV commercials in 2013, compared to $64 billion in 2009."


  1. i was watching a cable channel program and there was a commercial break every 6 minutes, makes me want to stop watching tv

    • A year ago or so I was watching Star Wars on a cable channel and I counted about 6 minutes of ads for every 5 minutes of movie. Aggravating, distracting and actually counterproductive. And it made me NOT want to buy the products advertised,

  2. That’s why the only way we watch TV is to DVR the shows and fast forward through the commercials.

    • Boycott Cable, even CNN, there is no other way they will learn.

  3. I believe the 30 minutes of nightly news has more than 10 minutes of ads. It seems the news interrupts a stream of hideous car ads etc.

  4. My sense is that many cable news are more than 1/4th consisting of ads. I could be interested in watching them but stopped watching. I also doubt that the commencials happen every 6 minutes, that would mean 10 breaks but only 90 seconds of commercials at a break, way lower. Perhaps there are also in-house commercials for the network pushing itself constantly. If half of the time is news would be it.

  5. Its no secret. We, as human beings, watch way too much tv, and its been proven make us more complacent rather than free thinking, emotionally intelligent people.
    So I’m glad these commercials breaks are growing and seeming to drag on more and more, like pushers trying to force products down your throat. Because i dont care how addicted you are to TV, the way this is going is pushing me away from the ordeal of it, and I know I cant be the only one.

  6. I can go the bathroom, make a sandwich, and finish it, and the commercials are still not over. It makes me not want to watch TV.

  7. I have learned to be very good at commercial cleaning. I watch General Hospital at 2 PM EST. The first commercial comes in just a couple of minutes. That’s when I wash any dishes in the sink. The next commercial is in four minutes; I set up my vacuum and pick up newspapers and shoes that are cluttering the floor. The next commercial is in four minutes and that gives me three minutes to run my sweeper and put it away. I still have time to pour myself a cup of coffee. The next commercials are in five minutes, allowing me plenty of time to polish the tables and start my laundry. The wash is started and I make my beds during the next commercials. Soon I transfer my washer load into the dryer while I sweep the kitchen and dining room. Back to my soap opera! Now my rooms are clean, my laundry is ready to fold or hang during the next set of commercials. Soon my show is nearly over and I still have six commercials left to start supper! I think we’ll have a casserole, so I can watch Dr. Phil at 4PM. It’s all a matter of scheduling your day!!!

    • Bless you and your formula for resisting consumer propaganda.

  8. Is there any address that I can send my feeling about how many commercials are being played at one time on Satellite TV. For fun yesterday I counted how many commercials played during break the average is 10 up to 13 that is crazy. I pay $90 a month for Satellite TV so I guess I am the crazy one.

  9. Yes it is pathetic how many commercials that are on TV especially when they repeat the same commercial over and over during the break of the same thing. That is why I have gone to Netflix and antenna TV only I’ know other people will continue watching the cable and Dish and all the other ways out there. But I am finished paying for commercials. It is totally stupid to waste money on commercials that are longer than
    our shows..

  10. Stop watching TV or rent movies. Better yet watch Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or any of the other pay services. No commercials. This is commercial insanity.

  11. It’s the same with the national news media. It is merely a place for the broadcasters to offer an opinion or guests who push them or the show SO THAT THEY GET PAID. There are no actual reporters anymore WHO TRULY FIND THE NEWS AND DEVELOP IT What burns me up the most are the small viewer days like Friday, Saturday and Sunday. MANY TIMES, they simply show a complete hour of what they showed before many, many times.. I only use the TV for DVD movies where I can fast forward over the name promoting actors, director, etc. Many times the “broadcasters” are presenting it in a way that helps them to persuade viewers. NO MORE. I’M GONE

  12. I mute all commercials, and if I do see an advertiser on way more than others, I never buy their product. I’m also in development of a product that auto-mutes commercials, as the existing products out there that auto-mute don’t work for long. So far, it’s coming along great !

  13. I have never ,and I mean never have bought one thing that I’ve seen on a commercial. I always mute them, I will come back into the room just to mute them. I usually always watch two shows at once , and sometimes it’ll be three , so when Commercials come on one I flip to the other. They are useless annoyances.

  14. I, agree with all these other vewers about commercials being out of control. I to, have never bought a prodect that has been adderverised. I also mute all commercials. It’s rediculus that some commercials last as long as 7 minutes or longer. Just watch the chiller channel.

  15. Just watched E channel. I counted 14 commercial at one time. Ridiculous!! Not only is commercials outrageous but the volume goes up during the commercials. What their next move? Can’t get much worse! Americans need to stand together and boycott certain channels on certain days to show our voice matters. GREED IS OUT OF CONTROL!!

  16. The irony is that consumer based propaganda (ads) helps sell the political propaganda that frequently masquerades as “news”.

    TV is rather revolting.

  17. I cannot stand watching the news anymore. There are some news stations that literally show a story for 30 seconds, cut to commercials, show another 30 second story and then have more commercials again. That is absolutely outrageous and should never happen. On top of that they show the same 3-4 commercials over and over again ON EVERY BREAK. The amount of times I have to see the same car ads have driven me to madness. I hate commercials so much. Thank God for Netflix and channels like HBO because paying to not have to see any commercials is more then worth it. Plus DVRing all TV shows is the way to do it.

  18. Thirteen minutes per hour? How is the word “commercial” defined? My hunch is that the 13-minute figure is way low! I watch CNN frequently and as often as not when I turn it on what comes on is a COMMERCIAL. If the 13-minute figure was accurate I would only see a commercial when I turn the TV on once in four times. Fox news is just as bad, as in MSNBC. None are worth the bombardment of their commercials. These channels won’t keep discriminating audiences for very long at the rate they are going down the road to commercialization. Happy profits and goodbye!

  19. I am getting rid of the cable contract. I have kept it for my husband, who loves sports. But it is so not worth the huge fees. I actually watched a ‘Friends’ episode specifically for the purpose of timing the commercials. I promise you that over 15 minutes of the ‘half hour’ show was ad time. Sick. Greed. The world of business is, in general, a very pathetic comment on the human state.

  20. Why don’t they just run commercials 24 / 7.THEY ARE NOT FAR FROM IT !

  21. You cant channel surf anymore, all the channels are on commercial breaks.

    Too many channels, too many commercials is killing tv.

  22. I agree. I limit my TV view on cable to mostly free movies on certain channels Tha t have no commercials. Can forget HGTV and a number of other stations. They have like 25 minutes of commercials and 5 minutes of programming.

  23. True Roy. The Liberty Insurance ads are on at least 200 times a day.

  24. Commercial creep was a factor in my decision to dump cable altogether in favor of ad-free streaming services. I find traditional cable simply unwatchable — bad shows loaded with ads — and it offends me that cable companies charge a premium for access to this garbage. So now I stream ad-free movies and shows for far less money, and am much more satisfied for it. I do maintain a subscription to Sling for sports, but now find it hard to watch even a high profile football game, due to the sheer number of commercials being pushed out. Don’t they realize they’re alienating their customer base?

  25. We’ve stopped watching television in our house.
    Our days now don’t have enough hours in them.
    Best thing we ever did.
    I never realised how much utter nonsense was on tv.
    And the best part is…. our dose of corporate vomit (adverts) has been slashed significantly.

    I can’t recommend it highly enough.
    Your imagination comes back – you may even start to question things – which is a long lost art.
    I’m proud to say that I don’t recognise a single advert on TV when I see one played – wherever I might be.
    Try it…. your lives will come back.

  26. There are thousands of complaints about the excessive commercials the TV networks are running. Action must be taken for all these legitimate complaints. What can be done to set new regulations on advertising interruption time of network programs. We are paying a lot of money for our TV viewing, and feel that customer satisfaction in the most important. The greed of TV networks has overrun our program viewing. The consumer has rights too, and need help with this matter. Please help us!

  27. I would be curious to know if the reason for more and more commercials is that operating costs keep going up or if it’s going into profits for the cable companies and their executives.

    Yes, we have options–shut the box off! But truth be told, “customer satisfaction” is no longer a meaningful factor.

  28. CNN

    When I was a kiddo news-junkie in the 60s, networks did not saturate their news programs with commercials. They have done a very good job at alienating viewers now by LOADING the broadcast with commercial interruptions.

    This is cheapness on a grand scale and the average viewer doesn’t realize that by having MORE commercials and less news, the news divisions also need fewer employees.

    Gone are the days when broadcasters believed they had s commitment to “broadcast journalism” and covering news from around the world.

    These days, “cheap” is in. Notice now how CNN has added Anthony Bourdain? It means they can block out real news (and have smaller staffs) and kill-off an hour time block that was formerly occupied by real news. Oh, and let’s not forget when Martin Savage was run into the ground OVER and OVER again with the guy in the mock-up cockpit of a Boeing 767 to make “news” stories well after the fact when the airplane went down in the Indian Ocean. It was cheaper for CNN to just go back to Martin about every 7 minutes than it was to actually send a news crew out on a story to investigate facts.

  29. Back in the day when I was a kid (a long time ago!) my dad told me that there was an FCC regulation on how many commercials could be shown at one time. I don’t know if that still applies but I just got finished watching a movie on Oxygen channel and I counted 18 commercials in one break and 19 in the next one and those were just the last 2 commercial breaks. I believe he also told me that they were limited on how long the commercial breaks could be. If that is still the case most of the channels are not following that. I get so sick and tired of seeing nothing but commercials that I promised myself that I would not buy ANYTHING that was advertised by these stations. Start hitting them where it hurts the most, in the pocketbook. Do not buy from their sponsors and maybe they will back off on some of this crap. GET A GRIP ADVERTISERS, SPONSORS AND TV CHANNELS……WE DO NOT WANT TO SEE SO DARN MANY COMMERCIALS………PERIOD!

  30. My Doctor friend told me while eating lunch that if a drug was heavily advertised a patient should never, never ever take it. A lawyer friend told us same lunch, that those drug companies had help put his children through college, med school and law school. He further said out of ten heavily advertised drugs four to five would cause major medical issues and the company would more than likely know they were a problem drug, hide the data and sell it anyway.

    So we take that even further and do not buy products advertised on TV, we feel if it’s heavily advertised the product is over priced. We go to the least expensive product that has the safest ingredients. Our cable bill is out of sight, we are cutting the cable and going over the air or even tossing out our tV’s. We were happier without the darn crap on TV anyhow.

  31. Just stopped watching MSNBC. News 40-60 seconds news then cut to 4 minutes of ads. Could not bear it any longer.

  32. MSNBC unwatchable. One minute of news then cut to 5 of adverts.

  33. As soon as a commercial comes on, most of which are about side effects from prescription medicine, I mute it and catch up on my reading or do small chores. I too have never nor will I ever purchase any product that interrupts a show I’m watching with their stupid advertising. Because of all the commercials I cut my cable subscription to just basic and purchased a roku stick. Cable companies are thieves and there is no bigger thief than Comcast. I would love to cut cable entirely and watch over the air but because of where I live, even with best antenna, I cannot get a signal.

  34. I assume it’s a matter of financial survival – or rather profit-growing to keep investors interested in supporting the model. I would expect that advertisers will only throw so much support behind the rising costs of program licensing and production, so stations/networks need to increase sales opportunities in order to maintain (and/or grow) the return on investment. The practice continues because it works – and again, it is a necessary component of the business model. Most people simply live with it, of course. That’s the other reason that it will continue.

  35. I DVR a lot of what I watch. For kicks I sampled a number of popular channels* to see what the percentage of commercials to programming averaged. FYI my 2014-15 data indicates an average commercial load of 29.54% commercials*. In other words, they expand the viewing time by almost half for your commercial enjoyment. What bothers me most is that a number of networks edit as much as 15 minutes from a movie to steal the time for advertising!
    *Includes, but not limited to AMC, Chiller, This, IFC, SyFi, TNT, and FX

  36. It is true that he advertising pays for the program. In terms of golf on the golf channel I believe there are more commercials than golf which is rather disruptive and makes viewing totally unfavorable.I would prefer to tape and fast forward on all commercials and I believe more and more people are doing this.

  37. I looked this up and wrote this while waiting for some actual news on CNN. The commercials FINALLY ended! No telling how long the news will actually last.

  38. you may all hate the commercials, but it is what pays for the programs you watch. we can always go back to the formula from the 50’s where advertisers “sponsored” a whole program, of course, if you look at shows now they are pretty much sponsored anyhow, I remember a few episodes of Burn Notice when Fiona got that Hyundai, and the blatant advertising was horrendously written into the script!


  40. I m just sick of paying for dish cable ads where are the t.v. shows 15 mins of ads 10 mins of shpws and the ads are getting longer..stop with the ads we allneed to stand together and cut cable and t.v. r uou with me on this ???

  41. Stop the ads ..we are sick of them where are the t.v.shows with out sooo many ads

  42. CNN has a quality second to none in it’s content and news reporting… There is no doubt about that. But the mere frequency and length of the advert breaks makes the channel unwatchable. Do they think their veiwers are morons with large wallets?
    How to really enjoy CNN as a male news junkie…. Tune in to CNN and imeadiatly set the pause button. Then proceed to the bathroom and complete the three S’s, ending with a shower.
    Start up your car and wait until the ice melts off of all wind shields.
    When respectable visit your local tattooist. Choose to have the Teracota Army stencilled on your back and wait for it to heel.
    Upon your return you should have a decent amount of news with the ability fast forward through all the adds and guff this news opperater wishes to chuck at you…..Nuff said.

  43. Dear sir’s, I m assuming by your beautifully scripted reply that I do not understand, I may have caused great offence. It was never my intention to offend anyone other than news broadcasters that consider their viewers required 15 or 16 minutes of advertisements during their single hour of veiwing.
    I named the Terracotta Army as a Tattoo choice because of it’s grand complexity.
    I am sorry if I have caused any offence. Zimadude.

  44. Fox News among others obviously doesn’t care how bad they are pissing off the viewers with outlandish commercial time vs programming! This situation has grown steadily worse every month and year. So many of us dvr and replay in order to skip over these interruptions. Doing this makes me even madder knowing that these folk lie to their advertisers about live viewer numbers. DVRing and then replaying shows has the same effect as if all watching viewed the commercials. I would think that’s advertiser deception and probably prohibited by law.
    Anyway, viewers are beginning to revolt by not watching!
    What a shame that these greedy TV morons can’t fix the aggravating problem.
    I’m not real sure what you might do with these comments but pretty sure nothing will be done!

  45. I remember watching Blade and it took forever, completely ruined the film. Here in UK we get 3 minute add break every 12-15 minutes and on BBC, there are no adverts

  46. OXYGEN CHANNEL IS THE WORST- ABSOLUTE WORST PROGRAMMING TOO!! Too many commercials and JIVE ASS!! I just complain to Direct TV.. but there all laughing at us. PULL THE PLUG!!

  47. the average 1 hour show has 17-18 minutes of advertisements

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