TV ads hit record levels in primetime

Average hour has 59 second increase

A new Madison Avenue study has confirmed what most TV viewers feel in their gut: The relentless volume of commercials has jumped up again in the last year, setting a record.

Across all of the ad-supported broadcast networks, a primetime hour in November reached an average of 16 minutes and 43 seconds of commercial spots, an increase of 59 seconds from the previous November. That’s the conclusion of a report from the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies.

Howard Nass, senior VP and corporate director of broadcast for True North Media, says that the broadcast networks are getting away with jacking up the number of commercial spots in their schedules because the economy is roaring along at a fantastic rate.

But if the clutter of 30-second spots starts causing them to blur in the viewers’ minds, Nass says the networks will have to call a halt to these increases in the commercial load.

“The recall of commercials by viewers is greater in primetime than other dayparts because over the years the networks made sure there were fewer primetime spots,” Nass says. “But if those recall scores start going down because of a heavier commercial load, advertisers will say to their agencies: I want you to take money away from television and put it into alternative media such as radio, newspapers and magazines.”

Nass says “the increase allows the networks to hold the rates down for the average 30-second spot,” giving one reason for the networks adding more commercial time to their schedules in all dayparts.

Increased rates have, in the past, caused advertisers to pull their dollars out of television. But the networks need to keep increasing their revenues from advertising because the costs of buying and producing programming continue to rise.

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