×

NBCUniversal Plans to Cut Commercial Time by 20% in Primetime by 2020

Less may be more for NBCUniversal.

After selling ad schedules for the 2018-2019 season that cut commercial inventory in original primetime programming by 10% on many of its broadcast and cable networks, the Comcast-owned media conglomerate intends to take things further. The company’s TV shows run the gamut from “The Voice” to “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

“In an effort to bring audiences a better viewing experience and provide marketers more engaging advertising opportunities, NBCUniversal has been committed to reducing commercial time and creating new storytelling solutions since 2017. The journey continues,” the company said in a statement. “By 2020, NBCU will have reduced video ad load and ad clutter, each by more than 20% percent within primetime.” NBCU also indicated it will look at cutting commercial inventory in other parts of its schedule, such as in daytime programs like “Today.”

While the idea sounds counter-intuitive – how can a media company make more money by selling fewer ads? – NBCU has worked to make up any difference by offering new formats and technologies that it believes add value to the commercials that do run amid reduced inventory. NBCU has offered “prime pods,” or a 60-second piece of national ad time that airs near the start or end of a program featuring just one or two sponsors. The company recently unveiled technology that will help advertisers align their messages with specific moments from programs.

“Innovations in premium advertising—from new ad formats, reduced ad loads, AI targeting solutions, automated systems to new measurement—are enhancing the viewing experience and helping more marketers tell better stories to build stronger brands,”said Linda Yaccarino, chairman of ad sales and client partnerships at NBCUniversal. “And this is just the beginning.” NBCU is just one of many media companies starting to position themselves for the annual “upfront” market, when U.S. V networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming programming season.

NBCUniversal isn’t the first TV company to try its hand at such techniques, which seek to reduce the amount of “clutter,” or advertising and promos, that inundate most TV aficionados. Time Warner’s Turner in 2016 launched a plan for its TruTV cable network under which shows would run longer while being interrupted with fewer commercials.

Axios previously reported NBCU’s new efforts.

NBCUniversal’s Kavita Vazirani expanded on her company’s approach to audience measurement on the latest episode of Variety podcast Strictly Business.

More TV

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

  • Teyonah Parris

    Teyonah Parris Cast in 'WandaVision' at Disney Plus

    “Mad Men” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” actress Teyonah Parris has been cast in Disney Plus’ “Wanda Vision” series. She will play an adult version of Monica Rambeau, a child character introduced in the film “Captain Marvel.” The announcement was made at Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation. The forthcoming Disney+ series about Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth [...]

  • Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - NOS4A2

    'NOS4A2' Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

    AMC has renewed “NOS4A2” for a second season. The news was announced during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con and ahead of the Season 1 finale. Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes and is slated to air in 2020. The series, which is based on the 2013 Joe Hill novel of the same [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Signs Netflix Deal With Expanded Coverage

    SAG-AFTRA and streaming giant Netflix have agreed to a new three-year contract with expanded coverage for union performers. Netflix has previously employed SAG-AFTRA members under the union’s standard master contracts for television and film and had been signing on a production by production basis. The union announced Saturday that the new deal recognizes performance capture as covered work [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins

    'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins 'Arrow' Final Season

    “Russian Doll” standout Charlie Barnett is joining the “Arrowverse.” Barnett, who is having a busy year having also appeared in Netflix’s “Tales of the City,” comes on board in the series regular role of John Diggle, Jr., son of David Ramsey’s character. News of his casting was announced at the show’s farewell Comic-Con panel where things [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content