When it comes to commercial breaks, Fox wants to test going extra long or super short.
The 21st Century Fox-owned broadcast network said it will test new advertising formats during three fall Sundays, with Hulu and Verizon serving as sponsors of some of the new commercial ideas. Fox will run five-and-a-half-minute long “Fox Blocks” as well as shortened ad breaks called “JAZ Pods” that contain just two commercials so viewers don’t have to wait too long to get back to the show that attracted them to watch in the first place.
“We believe in the unmatched power and impact of broadcast television, but we also recognize the need to evolve to meet the expectations of today’s viewers,” said Suzanne Sullivan, executive vice president of ad sales for Fox Networks Group, in a statement. “The warm reception from the ad industry to Fox Blocks and JAZ Pods, and the incredible group of brands participating this fall, reaffirms our focus on developing and implementing advertising strategies that deliver better results for viewers and advertisers alike.”
Fox has been mulling the idea of cutting back on traditional TV ads for months, and worked during the industry’s annual “upfront” sales season to see if it could make radical moves, such as eliminating in some cases all national and local ad slots in certain programs. The company had already announced its intention to test some of the ideas during Sundays in the fall. One series that runs on FX, “The Weekly,” is also expected to air with the shortened “JAZ Pods.”
Several traditional media companies have been testing new ad concepts as more consumers – particularly those who binge-watch TV favorites via streaming video – have grown accustomed to dealing with fewer ad interruptions, and sometimes even none.
Its first effort is this: On October 14, October 21 and November 11, Fox will cut back traditional ad time by 50%. The schedule will start with “The Simpsons” at 8 p.m. and “Bob’s Burgers” at 8:28 p.m. Viewers will see a “Fox Block” centered around entertainment after “Burgers” and then see a second vignette after the second half of the schedule, which consists of “Family Guy” at 9 p.m. and “REL” at 9:27 p.m.
The second “Fox Block” will be centered around sports. Fox said Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe from “Undisputed” on Fox Sports 1 will host the October 14 and 21 sports blocks, which will be called “Undisputed: Sunday Edition.” The November 11 sports block, hosted by Jay Glazer and called “Fox Sports Supports,” will celebrate the military.