You may not already know it, but Disney has a firm grasp on the television world. In addition to its holdings of ABC, ESPN, and the miscellaneous Disney channels, they also jointly own networks like A&E, History, Lifetime and many others. So when Disney CEO Bob Iger speaks about the current state of television, people listen. Iger recently spoke out about the state of regular television during an earnings call for the company and he had some blunt thoughts. Bob Iger recently revealed that he thinks there are too many commercials on television:
I think that in general, there is probably too much commercial interruption in television.
In response, Bob Iger said in the conference call (via Madison) that Disney will look into reducing the ad load on both ESPN and ABC. Both networks, while still quite large, are experiencing a drop in viewership. With consumers having more and more options to customize their cable viewing experience not to mention a slew of users cutting cable in favor of alternative TV options, both networks are seeing a drop in subscription. In addition to lowering ads on both networks, Disney will be making a push towards getting ESPN into more affordable cable options. Services like PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and AT&T DirecTv are all being sought after as future outlets for the station. The hope is that lowering ads and opening up the channel to a larger audience will bring more people to the channel, which means more money per ad, making up for fewer ads.
The strategy Disney is planning is currently being done by Time Warner Cable with truTv. The network has cut its primetime ads in half and seen positive results. Viewership is up on the network and less people are flipping the channel as the commercials roll. Advertisers are happy because numbers are up for their ads and viewers are happy because they are getting back to their programming quicker. It's a good model but it's worth noting that ABC and ESPN make much more money for Disney than truTv does for TWC.
Disney and Time Warner Cable aren't the only players talking about reducing ads. It was widely reported months ago that both the NFL and NBA were considering reducing ads in an effort to bring viewership numbers back up. If there is a poster boy for "too many ads", it's certainly the NFL. Football games have so many ads that commercials during the Super Bowl have become a cornerstone of the entertainment!
The option of custom cable packages and streaming has freed many who no longer are willing to stick around for excessive commercials in order to enjoy their favorite shows. Personally, I just use commercial time to check out what's going on with my apps or to pester my wife with questions about what we're watching. I don't hate commercials, but I certainly won't mind less! Hopefully, Disney starts a revolution and we can enjoy the rest of the upcoming shows (found on our midseason premiere guide) with limited interruption.