Are Commercial Breaks Getting Longer?

I don’t have any numbers to back this up. By the questions definiton, it is all personal perspective.

This question is in the context of US tv.

Is Chuck Woolery’s old Standby “2 and 2” (2 minutes and 2 seconds) no longer the rule of thumb for TV? What replaced this ‘rule’ and are there any other rules or time schedule routines for commercials?

it depends on the show. It also seems like radio commercials take forever also. The sad thing is, I don’t buy anything they advertise (I can’t spell.).

I do know that alot of old shows have parts cut out in syndication to make room for more commercial time(Simpsons comes to mind).

So yes it seems like years later commercials are longer.

Well, I foundthis link that describes details about commercial time in various times and shows. Some programs can have over 18 minutes of commercials per hour, but they vary wildly: network news during the 2000 election had 11 minutes/hour.

I seem to recall some law that regulated the amount of advertising that was allowed per hour/show. A couple of Googlings turned up some Canadian and EU regs, but nothing for the US. I’m wondering if the 1996 Telecommunications Act removed these restrictions (thus allowing the hated infomercials - I can’t remember when these things started, but I DO remember when local stations used to sign off with the national anthem and then go to snow, a la Poltergeist).

IIRC, Chuck Woolery’s “2 and 2” line was given three times during the show, thus producing 6 minutes of ads in a half hour (and 12 minutes/hour). I think the “two seconds” part was just a way for Chuck to show off his gaudy watch. :smiley:

Most commercials are 30 seconds long, although some (especially movie ads) are 60. You can always tell the 60 second ones; they’re pretty obvious. So if you count commercials you’ll be able to tell if the 2-and-2 is still in effect (I doubt it).

I’ve seen stations not only cut parts out of shows, but even speed them up :eek: by playing the audio track a bit fast and presumably dropping video frames regularly. Usually they do this when for some reason a show has to run in a shorter time slot, but I wouldn’t put it past them to pull the same stunt to make room for more commercials. Lemme tell ya, when you’ve watched a show long enough and they do this, it’s obvious that the voices are chipmunked.

I’ll see about doing some commercial counting & get back to this thread with my results.

Just remember, the ideal television program a network wants to have is one that’s all commercials…

(What, you thought the networks were airing shows to entertain you? No, they just need something to entice you to stay seated between commercial breaks)

Here an example:

“All in the Family” episodes ran about 26-27 minutes.

“Frasier” episodes run about 21½ minutes.

Here’s an interesting aside. When I was in Berlin back in the 70s, TV stations there only played commercials between 17:00 and 18:00 (somewhere about that time). The rest of the day there were no commercials. People would actually watch them because they were really well done and entertaining in their own right.

West Berlin.

Someone ought to check this out, but I seem to recall there used to be a limit on commercials in each hour, but this went the way of most regulations during the Reagan era. Actually, so few people watch the commercials these days of VCRs and TiVo with their commercial killers that I predict that free TV (really sponsored TV) is in serious danger of disappearing. Then we will have to pay for all the programs we watch. Maybe we will watch less.

from time to time andy rooney on 60 MINUTES makes a comment about the amount of commercials on the program.

he said when he started. it was 9 minutes in an hour. later, it became 11 minutes in an hour, and his last comment was 13 minutes in a program hour.

this is prime time commercial allowances. local tv allowances, are under a different fcc rule.

the supreme court ruling that “the airways belong to the public”, now appears to have changed to the airways belong more and more to advertising.

i heard one guy say that tv isn’t an entertainment medium, it’s a selling medium.



When I tape 1/2 hour shows and skip the commercials, they always come out to around 21 minutes. 1 hour shows about 40-45 minutes. There are some channels that have much less advertising… the space channel (that I watch for the original Star Treks) has very short commercial breaks, at least during that show. I actually don’t flip away because the show comes back on so fast. All other channels here take much longer breaks, 3-5 minutes each, every 15 to (ugh)10 minutes.

They’re longer.

This has led to some “classic” TV shows in reruns – I Love Lucy and Star Trek, among others – being cut to fit the newer, shorter time slots.

If you’re looking for rules, you’ll be unable to find any if only because different networks display their commercials in different ways.

For example, the WB has many short commercials that break up a program, whereas Cartoon Network shows only one long commercial after the first act of a program and another between programs.

Back in 1987 when Star Trek: The Next Generation first premiered, they made a big point about it only being 45-46 minutes long in order to allow for more commercials. It was an expensive program (for its time - $1 million per ep) for syndication and the extra ad time helped to pay for it.

HGTV shows older episodes of This Old House and New Yankee Workshop. These shows were made for PBS and as such are true 30-minute programs. Watching them on a network with commercials can be painful. The shows are severely chopped up, and typically both the beginning and the end have been cut back as far as humanly possible.

Certainly more than is humanely possible. :slight_smile:

While it may be true, audreyayn, that there is so much variation, in my experience with the local broadcast stations they have been so regular that I have learned to anticipate when the commercial break is about to end. But, there is no WB station here except on cable and of course Cartoon Network is a cable station.

So to go back and respond to the OP, should we discuss broadcast stations or cable stations?

It makes sense that TV runs shows just for commercial exposure. However, I would think and hope that this pendulum will swing back the other way. We would stop watching programming if more commercials are inserted. As it is now, most people change the channel on commercials anyway. (Those with out the capability to skip) The dollar sign might be a high priority for TV, but in a crunch I hope the human eye becomes more of a prioroity. Sadly, in a related note, notice how PBS has more and more Commercials now days?

Shows on UPN like Enterprise usually have 3.5 minutes of commercials between segments. Well sometimes they’re nice and only give us 3 minutes.

I too have seen what effac3d said about shows cutting out parts to make more room - some of the funniest parts of the Simpsons have since been deleted (like when Homer’s dog ran after George Bush Homer says “stupid dog…hmm you could say he’s barking up the wrong Bush”…then you hear his brain say “there it is Homer the smartest thing you’ll ever say and no one was around to hear it”…DOH!!!).

and I agree with Computer Guru, radio commercials are LONG. I listen to talk shows and they stop at 00-05, 15-18, 22-24, 28-29, 30-35, 42-44, and 56-59 past the hour every hour for ads (ok a few minutes of it is news, but not much). Sometimes more. That’s over 20 minutes of ads an hour.

Which shows have you seen that have had this done? I’ve seen episodes of Friends where I thought something was off, and this was probably it. It’s somewhat disorienting.

Because of this I think we will start seeing a lot more product placement in the shows.