How Many Hours Of Commercials Netflix Saves People From Watching

While sitting (or lying down) through a major binge-fest on Netflix, did you ever stop to wonder just how many commercials you’d have to suffer through if Daredevil or the Wet Hot American Summer series was airing through a marathon on TV? To be expected, the streaming service is saving you tons of hours from the likes of Miller Lite, Allstate, Ford and movie previews.

How many hours? Well, the exact numbers obviously change from person to person, but subscribers are, on average, able to avoid around 130 hours of commercials per year when watching TV series through Netflix as opposed to regular television. That number comes from Exstreamist, which got its info from a recent survey where it was determined the average person spends around 1.5 hours a day watching Netflix, which adds up to something around 540 hours of streaming per year. Modern commercial times per hour clock in at 14 minutes and 15 seconds for broadcast networks, and 15 minutes and 38 seconds for cable channels, which means streamers are avoiding a little over 21 minutes of commercials on a daily basis. That’s almost an entire infomercial for whatever Magic Bullet version is out now.

Expand that math a little further, and you’re saving yourself roughly 5-and-a-half entire days of ads by sticking to Netflix over normal TV. Unless one of your favorite spare-time activities is actually watching commercials, that stat should make you feel like you’re almost accomplishing something, even if it’s just discovering the fates of BoJack Horseman and Frank Underwood.

Now, there’s one obvious problem with those statistics. The Netflix-viewing numbers seem to only assume that people are watching TV series, rather than anything from the massive movie library the streaming service has acquired. (Movies sometimes do play with commercials on non-premium cable channels, but it doesn’t seem like that’s how the majority of people watch them.) So if someone is adhering strictly to feature-based streaming, he or she probably isn’t saving a whole lot of time in avoiding commercials.

As well, it seems like a great thing that we’re all able to bypass ads on Netflix, but ad revenue is responsible for a substantial amount of money that goes into getting shows produced. So without them, series like Breaking Bad and Grey’s Anatomy would have more trouble getting to viewers. But if Netflix, HBO and Showtime can produce high-quality programming without ads infringing on episode time, it’s only a matter of time before other networks figure out more ways to shift costs around, such as offering up their own form of streaming subscription services, like CBS All-Access.

We’re pretty sure that Netflix won’t have to offer standard commercials for a while, although they may start promoting their own shows more often in the future. And hell, if they had their own advertising company that put together fun ads like the KFC ones, then we might actually ilke watching them.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.