‘Late Late’ Host Works New Measurement Into Shorter Monologue

Jul 12, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Commercial ratings, a wonky subject that is all the rage among media buyers and advertisers, is now the stuff of late-night TV humor.
Comedian Craig Ferguson on Monday night made the topic part of his monologue on “The Late Late Show,” telling viewers that he had to stop talking for a while because CBS had decided to place an ad break earlier in the program.
A Pause
Mr. Ferguson typically opens “The Late Late Show” with a longer story, according to Marty Daly, CBS’s senior VP-director of CBS’s news and late-night sales. But Monday he paused and explained to viewers that a commercial would appear sooner than usual.
“With the new commercial ratings, programs won’t get rated, the commercials will get rated,” Mr. Daly quoted Mr. Ferguson as saying. The late-night host then wiped his brow, Mr. Daly recounted, and said, humorously, “Thank God the programs won’t get rated.” News of CBS’s ad effort was reported previously by The New York Post.
Most deals for ad inventory made during the recently completed upfront sales period — the time when networks sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season — were based on commercial ratings, rather than program ratings as has been done in the past. That means that viewership of commercial pods has become increasingly more important. Advertisers like the commercial-ratings concept because viewers routinely leave their sets to use the bathroom, get food or channel surf, and therefore don’t always watch the ads that support the program they are watching. The situation has grown worse in recent years, with the increasing penetration among TV viewers of digital video recorders. These devices allow people to skip through ads they might otherwise be forced to watch, meaning even fewer people are paying attention to commercials.
Testing What Works
During late night, the situation is particularly tricky. The longer a program goes on, the more people tune out, owing to the lateness of the hour, said Chris Simon, CBS’s exec VP-network sales. He said CBS is “experimenting with what works” during “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson,” and, to a much lesser extent, “The Late Show with David Letterman.” “We want to recognize value for our clients for these commercials,” said Mr. Simon.
CBS is testing what happens when it moves the first two ad breaks earlier during “The Late Late Show,” said Mr. Daly. The ad breaks contain both local and national commercials and last about three and a half minutes. Because the summer is often a less-frenzied time of year for networks, CBS can test different ad formats and digest the results before the 2007-08 season gets under way, Mr. Simon said.
With commercial ratings fast becoming a reality, many networks have begun to experiment with ways to get ads in front of as many viewers as possible. NBC, for instance, recently ran a live commercial for Garmin satellite-navigation devices during “The Tonight Show.” Fox recently tried putting in “viral” animated vignettes featuring a taxi driver named Oleg in the hopes viewers might scan ad breaks for the oddball character.
Sometimes, the best thing to do when an ad break gets in your way may just be to pretend that it didn’t. When Mr. Ferguson’s program returned from the first break Monday, said Mr. Daly, the comedian joked to viewers that they had missed something fun while they were gone, then returned to the topic of his longer story.


  1. I wonder how many viewers just switched over to Conan at the early ad break to catch the end of his uninterrupted monologue. Great way to drive away the viewers, CBS.

  2. Who on earth gives a crap what happens to Craig Ferguson. I’d rather watch commercials than his terrible show and know 50 people who feel the same way.

  3. Craig’s seemingly stream-of-consciousness opening monologue is the entire reason that Ferguson fans watch night after night. It’s brilliant and shouldn’t be interrupted. He’s been so thrown off his rhythm these last few nights that he’s been repeating himself after the interruption to resume his train of thought, stealing valuable minutes from the increasingly-rushed back end of the show. LET CRAIG BE CRAIG!

  4. it is of course an insult to the rare talent that is craig ferguson but do they not understand how insulting it is to the audience.

  5. Maybe they could try the revolutionary approach of putting actual information into their commercials and maybe people might watch them. And let Craig do the Craig thing that he does so well uninterrupted.

  6. I won’t go to Conan. Nothing is that bad! However, it’s a stupid, backward thinking policy and I hope they can it soon!

  7. here’s a thought.
    i would happily watch their commercials if they paid craig to do them. now that would be entertainment!
    i’d even record conan too if craig were doing the commercials over there!

  8. Does CBS really think anyone will sit through the commericals?? I wonder how well this would fly during Letterman or Leno openings? CBS should forget about messing with Craig’s opening – which is the funniest and most entertaining out of all the late night talk show hosts. I certain do not appreciate the format change and will not be watching any of the commericals during Craig’s show.

  9. This is just another coporate way to destroy something wonderful, just to earn a few more bucks. The monologue is the best part of the show–you never know where he’s going to end up.
    CBS–let Craig alone!

  10. I like Craig Ferguson, and think many others jumped on the bandwagon after his uproarious account of hosting the TV Critics Association awards ceremonies…and Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives” still thought he was the talent booker for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Don’t shorten up the monologue. Couldn’t advertisers find a way to bring back silent ads, like on a ticker? That way they wouldn’t have to interrupt such a funny guy.

  11. I think NBC will hurt their ratings by having Conan O’Brien host any talk show. I find him to be boring and not the least bit funny. That little jump routine at the beginning of the show is so stupid! Craig Ferguson has a great presence and is very funny. I agree with some of the previous comments about having Craig do the commercials instead of interrupting his monologue. There are entirely TOO many commercials already.

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