I have a question about T.V. commercials

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by todd stone, Aug 12, 2004.

  1. todd stone

    todd stone Screenwriter

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    Commercials.. I cannot stand them. They break up the flow of T.V. shows of past and present and half of them are just downright nonsensical.

    First, my thought... When you buy a boxed set of your favorite T.V. series, like NYPD Blue for example, when you watch an episode straight through, they are about 45 minutes long.

    Now when you watch this on primetime, the show is an hour, because of all the commercials.

    Second, my question... Why can't network providers just save the commercials for the last 15 minutes before the next hour, that way we can watch our show without interruption and have it flow as nice as it does on DVD etc.

    The quick answer will be, because people will not watch the last 15 minutes and no one will see the ads. NOT true. There are people out there who do enjoy commercials, but many who do not, and who also do NOT sit and watch them during the break. So why not just push them all to the last 15 minutes of the hour???


    Thoughts?
     
  2. StephenA

    StephenA Screenwriter

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    It also seems that they show more commercials now than they used to. It definitely is annoying when they put the commercials right in the middle o an important scene.
     
  3. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    You also have to remember that television shows are meant to showcase/package/sell the commercials. Not other-way round. [​IMG]
     
  4. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    Exactly. Besides, it's just another incentive to get the DVD. [​IMG]
     
  5. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Besides, I love those Meow Mix commercials with Baxter calling his master on the cell phone. [​IMG]
     
  6. StephenA

    StephenA Screenwriter

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    I haven't seen those Baxter commercials in a long time. I also like the Mastercard commercials with the dog who finds his way home and makes friends on the way.
     
  7. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

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    Like Homer Simpson said, if we don't watch them, it's like stealing. [​IMG]

    I don't really mind commercial breaks. Shows are supposed to have them. If you watch them on DVD, there's obviously a spot where the music swells, a character reveals some life altering information (or a nice little zinger), and it cuts to black for a second. That's the way it was meant to be seen and if we took out all the commercials, it still wouldn't flow naturally like a movie. Commercial breaks are built into shows as a sort of false cliffhanger.

    What bugs me is when some shows go to syndication, the network adds in new commercial breaks in the middle of a sentence or something. One example that comes to mind is Angel when it airs on TNT.
     
  8. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    Never been to the theatre, have you?

    Somehow they manage to have Acts without having commercials in between.
     
  9. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    Because you pay for each individual movie you see in theatres. You don't pay a flat fee for each program you watch on TV.
     
  10. Jeff Jacobson

    Jeff Jacobson Cinematographer

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    But some greedy theater owners still put commercials in front of the movies that you have paid to see.
     
  11. Dave Simpson

    Dave Simpson Second Unit

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    Just to play the Devil's advocate here, would you want to be in charge of a company cuttin' a cheque to a newtork for advertising time knowing that your ad would be placed somewhere in a block of commercials following this week's exciting episode and lasting fifteen minutes? I know I wouldn't...Cheers.

    DS.
     
  12. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Ever heard of act breaks or intermission? [​IMG]
     
  13. andrew markworthy

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    Well, you could come over to the UK and watch the BBC channels. No adverts, though between programmes you tend to get several minutes of unecessary filler describing what's coming up later in the week. The only trouble is that there's zilch worth watching on the BBC these days.

    Also, our commercial channels tend to have fewer and shorter commercial breaks.

    Dumb Brit question - it's a while since I've seen any American TV. Do programmes still go straight into commercials without a programme ident? In the UK there's got to be a 10 second gap (filled with an 'end of part one' sign or similar) between the programme and the advert.
     
  14. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I don't think those have been used for over thirty years in american cineplex's.
     
  15. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Oh, I assumed we were talking about the theater (thee-ate-er), not the theater (thear-tur) [​IMG]

    ...meaning, plays and stage performances.
     
  16. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

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    Sure, but that's not the point. Television shows are produced with commercial breaks in mind. I may not like the suspense of a three minute long commercial break cutting in, but it's very much an artistic decision where to place the breaks. Networks don't just randomly insert them.

    Commercials cutting into movies airing on network TV is another thing, but we're just talking about television shows.
     
  17. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    I agree.

    For example. Joss Whedon's shows (Buffy/Angel/Firefly) were very careful where they put the commercial breaks, and very much made it a part of the episode. One of the great fun parts of watching his shows are the big dramatic events take place... then BAM, you've got to wait 4 minutes to see how it plays out.

    It's a little fun with shows that actually use the cliffhanger, but it is also annoying on repeat viewings, and especially syndicated shows.

    Also interesting how MUCH time is spent on commercials. Hourlong shows used to be roughly 50 minutes in length. Now they're probably 42 minutes. Opening themes could be anywhere from 40 seconds, to 1:30. Now they're about 20-50 seconds.

    Also interesting is the belief that people just get up during the commercials and come back when the show's coming back. They KNOW people do this, which is why the volume on the commercials is actually louder than the aired episode. I've noticed many times that the shows I watch seem to be lower in volume, so I turn it up. The commercial comes on, and my mom yells that it's just too loud... the show comes back, and we have to jack up the volume again.

    I think they're aware people try to tune out and wait for the show to come back... so they now make commercials like internet pop-up ads. Loud and obnoxious, with overly bright colors and fast images. It's all to catch your eye, cause they know you're not paying attention.
     
  18. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Worse than that: TV shows are meant to sell us. There is a common misconception that TV shows make money selling advertising. But advertising is worthless is nobody sees it. What TV sells to the advertisers is the audience (and demographics). "My show will put x million butts in seats, 80% of them men between the ages of 18 and 45 - here's what it will cost you to run your ad while they're watching." If you're selling dentures, that's probably not worth your investment. If you're selling sports cars, it probably is. You want those eyeballs.

    This is exactly the same revenue model that radio used (and radio, not film, was the true precursor of televison.) For that matter it is a variation on the model that newspapers and magazines, which make only a fraction of their money from subscriptions and newsstand sales, have always used. Print publications charge ad rates based on their circulation - that is, the number of readers they deliver who will see the ads.

    These investments pay off because the fact is most of us do watch at least some of the commercials. I, for one, rarely need to use the bathroom 4 to 6 times in the course of an hour of TV watching, and I don't eat that often, either, so odds are I won't completely miss more than one or two commercial breaks during 3 hours of prime time. I may tune out and surf the web or something, but chances are I'll hear a bit of the pitch in the background and I often stop and pay attention if someone is hawking a new product that I may have a use for. (In fact, I watch such ads when I'm catching up on shows I've recorded on TiVO. [​IMG])

    And since all of this helps pay for the "free" TV that I later buy on DVD, I really don't have a problem with it and worry about self-defeating strategies to escape commercials. Because to destroy commercials is to destroy the goose that lays the golden TV eggs. None of the other economic models for TV production lend themselves to the range and variety of shows produced for commercial broadcast and cable television or to as many ancillary revenue streams for the producers to encourage them to produce more material. Which is a reason that none of us should be eager to see commercial TV killed off or those "annoying" commercials done away with or prevented from doing their collective jobs.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  19. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Robert - I've got a station here that does just the opposite. The commercials aren't as loud as the shows. Really weird, but I like it.

    I also miss the AVC. TV sets used to have an Automatic Volume Control. I wonder how much they got paid to remove it - and who paid them.

    Glenn
     
  20. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    What I meant was that not only do they know where/when the break will occur, but the writers of the shows say that Joss is very specific about how an episode plays around the breaks. For example, if a particular episode has a twist "You think the murderer is a green slimy thing, but find out later in the episode it's being controlled by.._______" then it usually occurs at the half hour break with his shows. So it's not just that they plan a big reveal, they structure the actual plot around the breaks in some cases, not just revelations.
     

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