Losing Viewers, Viacom Cable Nets Shoehorn More Commercials Into Programming

Aug 27, 2012  •  Post A Comment

With some of Viacom’s cable channels shedding viewers during the past year, the media conglomerate is turning to another method of maintaining advertising sales: shoehorning more commercials into its shows, reports The Wall Street Journal. (Please note that The WSJ is a subscription-based site, and not all readers may be able to access the original article.)

Nickelodeon and Comedy Central have boosted their ad time by 9% during the first half of 2012 when compared with a year earlier, reaching a combined 1,901 hours of ad time, the story says, citing data from Nielsen. That jump came after a 7% rise in 2011 and a 4% bump in 2010.

Nickelodeon witnessed a 29% drop in viewership during the first half of the year, while Viacom’s overall U.S. advertising sales slipped 7%, the story notes. Other networks, including Comedy Central, have also posted viewer losses, but at lower rates.

A Viacom representative described the increased commercial time as a "temporary situation that we will address as ratings improve."

But the strategy can backfire, turning off viewers and advertisers. Consumers don’t like extra-long commercial breaks, while advertisers are resistant to "clutter," the story notes.

"This strategy seems disconnected with their clients’ needs," said Jason Kanefsky, executive vice president of strategic investments at ad-buying firm MPG.

Viacom didn’t say how many commercials it airs during its shows, but one ad buyer estimated Nick at Nite airs 16 minutes and eight seconds of commercial minutes per hour, compared with 12 minutes and 30 seconds at MTV. Nickelodeon has fewer ads, with an estimated 9 minutes and 26 seconds of commercial time per hour, the story said.

ESPN airs nine minutes and 27 seconds of commercials per hour, while Discovery plays 10 minutes and 59 seconds of ads, the ad buyer said, according to the story.


  1. Increasing the commercials is counterproductive. Those long intrusive commercials are the very reason viewers have been turning away. They should try either shortening them or adding them at the end of the programming.

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