Fox Wants To Seriously Cut Back On Commercial Breaks

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Now that online streaming has become as natural an act as breathing or putting pants on correctly, linear TV is losing subscribers in mass droves, and the trend doesn't seem primed for a reversal. But network execs haven't stopped contemplating ways to try and make things better for the paying customers that have stuck around. Fox, in particular, is looking to overhaul its ad strategies by cutting TV commercial breaks down to just two minutes per hour. This exalted plan is intended to go into effect by the year 2020.

Such a cutback in advertising would take a huge effort, considering how things are currently going. For broadcast networks in 2017, each hour of TV would require 13 minutes of ads, while that number jumps to 16 minutes per hour for cable channels. And both of those stats are relevant here, since Fox is reportedly aiming to spread that ad-gouging tactic from Fox proper to cable channels like FX and Fox's sports networks.

Understandably, Fox's ad plan isn't fully fleshed-out, so there are no specific scenarios set up just yet, and the company is looking to test out different methods, with the previously tested six-second ad being one example. Fox Networks Group's executive vice president of non-linear revenue, David Levy, said Fox might make some changes with its ad pricing, according to CNN, which would definitely make sense. No matter what Fox is charging for 30-second spots, two minutes of ads can't directly compare to 13-16 minutes. Consequently, higher ad premiums mean Fox may end up having to charge more for its programming. Not something customers ever like to hear, but the payoff could work out for those who despise commercials the most.

Fox has successfully tested this reduced ad placement on some of its platforms, such as its digital subscription service, FXNOW, and those moves were apparently positive enough to inspire a more widespread effort. However, with DIsney's Fox buyout still on the horizon, it's not immediately clear how that deal might affect the network's commercial goals, since Disney would be in charge of FX and other cable networks.

The past couple of years have seen a handful of networks attempting to reduce their own ad times in an effort to win people's attention. Time Warner channels such as TruTV and TNT have decreased their commercial break durations by minutes, though no one else out there has tried for a goal as low as two minutes.

For the time being, we're going to be watching all the McGruff-parodying Geico commercials, all the M&Ms ads, and all the rage-inducing spots that advertisers have to offer. Here's hoping 2020 brings fully realized promises, though.. In the meantime, head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what else is on the way.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.