Why More People Are Actually Watching TV Commercials Now

Though it wasn’t long ago that the entirety of TV show viewing was done on actual TV sets as the shows aired live, there are seemingly as many ways to watch series now as there are series to watch. And while commercials may have initially taken a hit though the advent of DVR and mobile viewership, it sounds like that downward spiral may be flipping back up. And there’s more than just one simple reason for it, too.

At this year’s TCA press event, CBS Corp.’s chief research officer David Poltrack and CBS Interactive’s executive vice president and general manager Marc DeBevoise spoke to reporters and refuted many claims about the so-called decline in effectiveness of modern-day TV advertising. And one of the ways in which this is happening may surprise you – or it might not if you happen to be reading this on your phone – as Poltrack proposed a solid point for why there is a downturn in people fast-forwarding through commercials on DVR recordings.

The number is declining now because they’re too busy on their phones to fast-forward through the ads.

I love that, and it makes complete sense to me, as someone who is often playing Viggle quizzes or catching up on social media while relaxing in front of the TV. Sometimes it takes one of those high-volume car commercials to get my attention back to the screen.

According to AdWeek, Poltrack also pointed out that, while there is an arguably unfounded stigma against the ad industry, “people like advertising.” (That may not explain all of Mad Men’s critical success, but it’s something.) Contrary to what some people may think when they see that annoying McDonald’s or Geico commercial for the 17th time, ads aren’t always the enemy. Poltrack went on to say this.

They are not craving a world without advertising. [Audiences don’t like] ads that aren’t relevant to them. But they enjoy ads that are relevant to them.

To back this claim up, he gave as an example the CBS All-Access subscription streaming service that the network started up late last year. Claiming that subscribers often watch twice as much content as those who aren’t a part of the service, DeBevoise says that they make more money from digital ads than over-the-air ones, because they’re able to target 100% of the online ads to the viewers, though that subscriber base is admittedly far less than those who watch the network regularly. But the future may see those numbers get closer together.

That plays into the study earlier this year that stated people do indeed like watching shows with commercials more than they do ones that are completely commercial-free. Assuming the ads are showing them things they’re interested in, I guess. That said, we’re still hoping Netflix decides to stay away from advertising for as long as possible.

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.