Major Television Networks All Considering a Decrease in Advertisements to Stop the Bleeding

Two years ago, there was an episode of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ that ran in its normal 30 minute time slot on CBS. The episode had 18 minutes of content and just under 12 minutes of advertising. Frankly, at the time, we wouldn’t be surprised if the trend continued to be an even split. 

But over the last several seasons of television, the trend of cordcutting has continued to gain steam. People turning to services like Netflix, Hulu’s ad-free option, and Amazon Prime, all with no commercials, this migration of eyeballs has caused the major networks concern for the future of their advertising revenue.

NBC and FOX have both discussed recently their intentions to decrease the amount of time during broadcasts sold to advertisers in an effort to keep their broadcast television viewership more engaged. One of the most common complaints among TV viewers over the past year has been that there are too many commercials, and with competition available that offers entertainment with fewer ads, it makes sense that these viewers would leave for these services.

But perhaps one concern might be the quality of television that comes with lower advertising budgets. TV networks will become less risk-averse to bring on new and innovative television shows, instead opting to likely stick with successful formulas from past seasons. Again, this might give more power to the streaming services, who will see subscriber numbers continue to climb with each new big series released. Netflix’s growth, especially internationally, over the past few years has been astronomical. 

Live sports, once the bastion of cable subscriptions, is now more than ever available through streaming services like Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW. ESPN is seeing a continued slide in viewership, and has since followed through with massive layoffs as viewership continues to disappear. 

Unfortunately for networks that build their own streaming services, for some reason the value of streaming television viewership seems to be less than that of broadcast. The advertising dollars per impression on streaming services are lower, and it is currently anyone’s guess as to why.