OT: Disney's CEO: too many commercials

Submitted by bnoble on February 12th, 2017 at 1:21 PM

In last week's quarterly earnings conference call, Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, said:

I think that in general, there is probably too much commercial interruption in television. It is a subject that has been discussed both on the ESPN front and on the ABC front, and it is something we will continue to look at. Particularly when you have got entrants in the marketplace that are offering programming that is not commercially interrupted.

I hope he is serious about that, because the games have become nearly unwatchable---and it isn't much better in the stadium, with the constant interruptions in play.

Lots of other interesting details about ESPN's partnerships with over-the-top providers (e.g. Sling) and vague chatter about a direct-to-consumer offering as a result of their stake in BAMtech, Major League Baseball's technology platform:

Conference call audio:

PDF transcript:



February 13th, 2017 at 1:41 AM ^

A decent amount of networks have figured out how (gotten around) to disable the 30 second jump now. But I've found, for whatever reason, they seem to turn that off late at night. So if you keep crazy hours like me you can usually use the skip everywhere.


February 12th, 2017 at 1:30 PM ^

Right, but there is a way to have advertising without drowning your audience in it. Watching a high profile football game is like clicking to one of those websites in which you aren't even sure what the content is because it is so saturated with advertising that it crashes your browser before you have a chance to do anything.


February 12th, 2017 at 1:30 PM ^

That's why I always record any game on the DVR and start watching around halftime. I skip all the commercials and halftime and finish the game right around the time it actually ends.

MMB 82

February 12th, 2017 at 5:13 PM ^

I can't even watch games in real time anymore. One recommendation- always add an extra two hours to the record time. Games always run over (including the game immediately before, nice to be able to FF thru the last 6 minutes of a game you don't care about), and if there is OT you are covered.

If I were an ad agency, I would embed something in the commercial that shows up well when you FF thru it. Where's Don Draper these days?

SD Larry

February 12th, 2017 at 1:32 PM ^

Saturday night games live as they always take more than 3.5 hours and sometimes 4 hours.  Ridiculous.  They don't need 6 or 8 suits around games either.  Two with a field reporter is enough.  

Go Blue Eyes

February 12th, 2017 at 1:34 PM ^

Just try and watch some highlight videos on ESPN.  For every 30-60 second clip there is seemingly a 15-30 second commercial.  Sometimes the same one over and over again.  It has gotten to the point I don't even bother looking at ESPN.com for anything other than a few score updates.  I hardly think that's what any business wants: people utilizing your product less.


February 12th, 2017 at 2:45 PM ^

"Red Hat," the on-field network guy basically controls the game./s

I never knew the NCAA controlled the number of commercials.

I agree about the number and length of commercials, but you have a certain audience size and advertisers will only pay so much to sell their product to a given number of viewers.


February 13th, 2017 at 7:36 AM ^

maybe they wouldn't lose 500k subs in a month. They could at least try it or the teams can demand showing the game on a delay like the olympics, so the really paying customers in the stands don't have to just sit there in 100 degree or the rain (again this would solve ticket sales)

Chris S

February 12th, 2017 at 3:40 PM ^

I always wondered if they only allotted for 1 commercial spot every break. It seems like you could charge more money for that spot and more people would actually watch it because they probably wouldn't change the channel

M Ascending

February 12th, 2017 at 4:09 PM ^

I DVRd the Indiana game. Started watching at 1:45 and finished just about when the game ended. That's 45 minutes of crap (including the halftime report) in a 2-hour show. I also can FF through those ridiculous video reviews.

Blue Balls Afire

February 12th, 2017 at 4:20 PM ^

I hate commercials in every other respect except when we're playing a hurry-up spread option team in football.  I was thankful for every damn tv time-out we had in The Game last year and I honestly believed it made a difference.  


February 12th, 2017 at 7:00 PM ^

Less commercial breaks just mean more ad placements (banners in stadium, on the field, on jerseys, announcer drinking an ice cold Coke, etc.). They won't just decide to make less money.


February 13th, 2017 at 7:00 AM ^

that i think is a little unfair. There's anticipation, replays and watching the presnap action. If you're with others, arguing over the last play call and what they should do next. But yeah, i hear before tv the game used to be like 2 hours long. Much prefer that. Even as is you just see players wandering around bored on the sideline


February 13th, 2017 at 4:16 AM ^

Late in the season, the NFL released some sort of commentary about how it was either going to reduce the number of commercial breaks or reduce the length of commercial breaks.

Turns out, they set a "record" by averaging more than 68 30-second commercials during a game. This was up a full minute from last year's record.

I'm watching less each year. Unless it's a big game, I only watch when there are games on two different channels at once.

I don't think this problem is going away, but I have started using the DVR for sports.

Also, the commercials are getting more annoying. It used to be you could mute them and that took care of it. Now they all use a lot of vomit-cam, so you have to turn off the TV or change the channel during a break anyway.

I've noticed some basketball and hockey games are starting to use in-game commercial banners - large, with motion sometimes. They are extremely invasive so far - enough to change the channel. I don't think the European soccer model is coming our way. I wish it would.

Funny that there are constant wireless ads now (along with the car ads), replacing the constant beer commercials from days past. Figures. Used to be the biggest danger on the roads was people drinking and driving. Now it's texting and driving. I suppose there are too many of those male sex enhancement pill ads as well - that doesn't bode well for road safety...


February 13th, 2017 at 6:45 AM ^

If it's just being discussed, they're about 15 years behind. Ever since HBO succeeded with a premium model, they should've learned that a sub + commercials is unacceptable. Maybe this is why ESPN is losing subs tremendously, people have had enough. Dunno about how that factors into ABC, as i've never watched regular shows, although there is some sports with the same problem

late night BTB

February 13th, 2017 at 8:12 AM ^

Never watch anything live anymore.  It's DVR always, FF through commercials and fluff (video reviews, XPA, injuries, hell, I'll even watch the game on 1xFF if I'm not particularly interested).

Rather than living my life around TV, it should revolve around mine.