Time Warner’s TruTV is testing a new advertising model: It wants to charge sponsors more money by running fewer commercials.
Starting in the fourth quarter of 2016, the network, which is devoted to comedic reality programming, will fill less of its time with advertising and promos and more of its air with actual programming.
In all, TruTV should run just 10 minutes to 11 minutes of national commercials and promos, compared to 18 minutes to 19 minutes at present (The network may be less able to dispense with local ads, which are typically brokered by a cable system that gets guaranteed time on the networks it distributes). As a result, episodes of shows that air under the new model could run as long as 25 minutes.
“We have a generation that has grown up with access to content that does not have commercials,” said Chris Linn, president and head of programming at TruTV, in an interview. “In order for us to remain relevant to them, we have to deliver the most premium experience possible.”
Turner, the Time Warner unit of which TruTV is part, will seek a higher price for ads that run in a less cluttered environment.
“This shift is a game-changer that will shake up how we as an industry approach video ad sales,” said Donna Speciale, president of ad sales for Turner Broadcasting, in a statement. “It is one step in Turner’s on-going commitment to create premium environments for our viewers and drive business results for our partners.”
Viacom has also made some noise in this area. During a recent investor conference, Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said the company intended to cut back the number of ads it ran in primetime on its various cable networks.