'Remote-Free TV' benefits 'Fringe,' 'Dollhouse'

Fox is cutting commercial time next season on its two biggest new dramas.

J.J. Abrams’ “Fringe” and Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” will air through out next season with limited commercial interruption.

Dubbing the initiative “Remote-Free TV,” Fox plans to run half the usual amount of commercial and promo time during both shows.

That means just five minutes of national commercial time during the hour.

Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Liguori introduced the initiative as “less reason (for viewers) to grab the remote and change the channel.”

“We need to give viewers new reasons to come to network TV.”

Fox sales topper Jon Nesvig said the ads will air in smaller pods.

“It’s more entertainment for the viewer and more impact for your messages,” Nesvig told advertisers. “We’re committed to this format.”

According to Liguori, the initiative will add about six minutes to “Fringe” and “Dollhouse” segs.

“Fringe” exec producer J.J. Abrams said he appreciated the opportunity to expand his show’s segs.

“It’s always a struggle to get traction,” Abrams told Daily Variety. “And it feels like there are a dozen commercial breaks per hour. Anything that allows us to have more time is great.”

It doesn’t appear as if Fox is paying any additional license fees for the added minutes, but the net believes that the extra minutes will add value to their properties.

“It gives extra attention to the show, and helps series when they go to DVD, foreign and syndication,” Liguori said.

Advertisers will pay a premium to be in the smaller commercial pods, with the opportunity to be the “A,” “B” or “C” ad in a break. After the presentation, media buyers were mostly positive about the initiative.

“Advertisers and viewers have issues about too many long commercial pods,” said Shari Ann Brill, senior VP and director of programming services at Carat. “It’s not even an issue of fast forwarding, but channel changing. This heightens the opportunity for advertisers’ messages to be seen.”

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