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Spanish Channels Have Lower Commercial Loads

Apr 25, 2007  •  Post A Comment

While clutter remains a problem for television advertisers, at least it hasn’t gotten much worse.
Media agency MindShare has been tracking the commercial minutes and the amount of other non-program material on TV since 2001. It found that during 2006, clutter was running at about 15 minutes per hour on the broadcast and cable networks.
“Despite concerns from the industry and research that shows clutter’s negative effects on both commercials and programs, over-commercialization continues to be a problem,” said Debbie Solomon, senior partner and research director at MindShare. “However, it is promising to see that the broadcast and cable networks held their clutter in check or even decreased it as compared to previous years.”
This year for the first time, the Mindshare report included the Spanish-language networks, which are quickly adding viewers and advertising dollars. Mindshare found the Spanish-language networks have less clutter and run fewer commercials than the English-language networks. Univision had the lowest amount of network commercial minutes among all the broadcast networks, with just 4 minutes and 10 seconds per hour.
This year’s report also includes The CW for the first time. According to MindShare, clutter on The CW falls between the old WB and UPN channels, with more non-program material than UPN, but less than The WB. The CW has been tracking in the midrange of the broadcast networks with 8 minutes and 58 seconds of network commercials per hour and 14:59 in total non-program minutes, which in addition to commercials included network promos and public service announcements.
But most of the rest of the clutter story stays the same.
ABC remains the most cluttered of the broadcast networks, with 10 minutes and 35 seconds per hour in network commercials and 15:38 in total non-program minutes. Both figures are up from 2005. NBC also was up in network commercials to 9:46, but down slightly in total non-program minutes.
CBS and Fox decreased both their commercial and non-program minutes.
The most cluttered network shows are The CW’s “Supernatural” and ABC’s “What About Brian,” both with 17:50 in total non-commercial minutes per hour. In fact, all but one of the top 10 in clutter are CW or ABC shows, joined by Fox’s “The War at Home.” (MindShare based its study on data from October, but says “American Idol” would be among the most cluttered shows had a more recent month been studied.)
Cable overall continues to have even more clutter than the broadcast networks, according to MindShare. Clutter on most of the cable networks was relatively flat compared to last year, with the notable exception of Fox News Channel. The total amount of commercials per hour on Fox News rose to 13 minutes and 5 seconds, up 13 percent from the previous year. Its total non-program minutes rose to 15:10, putting it just below MTV and Discovery Channel.
“We’ve expanded our inventory in prime time to meet the tremendous advertiser demand for our airtime,” a Fox News spokeswoman said.
Other cable channels heavy with non-program minutes include USA Network with 15 minutes and 48 seconds per hour, Lifetime at 15:47, Spike at 15:35 and MSNBC at 14:41.
MindShare notes that clutter hurts the viewing environment. Some networks, it noted, have tried different tactics to increase viewing commercials. One way is by pushing back the first commercial break in a program. In October, 36 percent of first commercials came eight or more minutes into the show, compared to 28 percent in 2005. Also, Fox has begun putting special 5-second spots at the end of pods, TNT has run series premieres commercial-free and The CW airs “content wraps,” which are like a sponsored miniseries airing during commercial pods.
Clutter, and the perceived decline in commercial viewing it causes, also has led to an increase in branded entertainment initiatives, MindShare said. The agency cited TNS Media Intelligence figures showing 21 minutes of every prime-time hour now include some kind of branded message. In unscripted shows, that number goes up to 24 minutes.

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