Last week, my wife and I were watching episodes from the first season of Remmington Steele, which came out in 1981. It was the series that shot Pierce Brosnan to stardom. I noticed that the episode length for Remmington Steele was forty-nine minutes. That means only eleven minutes, or about that, were actually used for advertisements or about eighteen percent of the program.
It set me to thinking about how many advertisements we are bombarded by. According to marketing research the average hour long program on US television now contains almost twenty-two minutes of marketing content. I should define marketing content is not just product ads but also includes advertising for other shows and the station and network the show is on. In other words, an hour show is now thirty-eight minutes long. But it gets worse. This also does not include product placement within the show.
There are more adds in talk television and 'unscripted' reality programs than scripted programs such as 'reality' shows. I have read that dramas like Fringe and Castle actually run forty-two minutes long. This includes introductory titles and credits, and so really, the actual scripted part of the program is shorter than forty-two minutes. Half hour shows contain about eight and half minutes of ads. These shows, when they go to cable are often content edited for another minute and a half for cable TV. An old TV show that was thirty minutes in length ran about twenty-five minutes and thirty seconds leaving just four and a half minutes for advertisements and things like station identification and other shows. So in short ads are now at least double or more in time compared to what they used to be.
In the 1950's Italian TV which had it advertisements heavily regulated tried to find away around the restrictions which made inserting ads into shows almost impossible. The result was one of the most popular programs ever created. Carosello was a comedy sketch or cartoon with major stars, foreign and domestic, followed by a series of short and usually quite creative commercials. It was a show for advertisers. It premiered in 1957 and ran until 1977.The show was a tremendous success.
But now advertisers complain about the skip feature on DVRs. Imagine that. Here's a thought: Try to make the shows less mind numbing and the ads more worthwhile. Maybe folks will watch.