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Luna Saisho

Don't count me as knowing all this for sure, but my guess is that since shows from the 60's and such had a lot of in-show advertising (Think of Olivia on Fringe driving a Ford a few times, but much more prolific).

Do you know why The Simpsons has a long and a short opening? So when it goes into syndication, they can use the short opening and not loose any of the show. ^_^ Doesn't always work, but it's a good try.


I agree with you on LOST, That's why I watch them online as opposed to the live broadcast. There are so many breaks, for such long periods the continuity is ruined.

Since I've been watching TV online over the last couple of years I find it harder and harder to watch broadcast TV. :)

I get TV shows from Netflix and also watch the same shows in reruns on occasion and they butcher some of the episodes to fit in commercials on TV. It's amazing!!!!

Chance the Gardener

Simpsons syndication cuts are discussed in detail for each episode at The Simpsons Syndication Cuts Guide

The short opening is not reserved for syndication only. Over 150 episodes have had the short opening in their broadcast premieres. See The Simpsons Archive: Opening Sequences

Before I watch a BBC program on TV, I check the original run time. At times, a 59 minute program has been edited to run in one hour with commercials.

Sometimes the reruns you see on TV have been sped up by a small amount that they hope you won't notice. You can google:

time-compressed syndication

for more information. Unfortunately, the sped-up versions of episodes are occasionally the versions that wind up on DVD.

Sock Puppet

Oh its not just Lost that is filled with tons of commercial interruptions, and what makes it worse is the fact they (networks I'd guess) hire chimpanzees to "cut" to commercials... So its always "just" before its "just" starting to get good. Frigging pisses me off.

That's why I love my DVR :-)

Bob Emmerich

As bad as network commercial times are, they are nothing compared to the Food network.

Somewhat related, Cablevision is now offering many network shows FREE on demand but no FF but ALL the commercials (at least in the few I've watched). Still, HD is available and I can watch at my leisure,and I like watching 2 episodes per night.


Fred said: "There are so many breaks, for such long periods the continuity is ruined."

Well said Fred. I haven't watched "live" TV since I got DVR. I pay ALL of the costs of television, whether at the cable office or at the cash register.

Until I am treated with the respect I am entitled, I will not watch "your" commercial.

And you all should feel the same way,


Chris Utley

Due to the recession it says. What a crock. They were adding commercials long before the economy tanked.


If I recall correctly, the FCC limited the number and total duration of commercials for on-air TV until the 1970s, when the limits were raised and then finally abolished.

Greg Finley

"This is due in large part to the economic recession that has hit broadcast television programming especially."

As many people point out above, this only works up to a point. Once there are too many commercials, people go out of their way to try to avoid them (DVR, Internet, torrents, etc.). It's starting to backfire.


It turns out that streaming is the only time I watch commercials, because I have to. Anything broadcast is recorded and the commercials skipped and I'm sure I'm not alone with this. I alway thought this was interesting given the reluctance of the networks to make more streams available, although they have come a long way in the last year. For me the only time networks are getting any value for their advertisement is with streaming.

Jake Harvey

The 60's? Two decades later tv shows were still almost 50 minutes. I'll admit I was shocked when I did a run through of MacGyver and Magnum P.I. and the episodes were ~48 minutes (it felt so long). Wonder how long till we get 30 minutes of programming for an hour-long show...


Has anyone ever calculated the amount of unique footage in a typical "reality" TV show? Given a 1-hour time slot, minus commercials, minus what happened on the last episode(s), minus what you are about to see on the current episode, minus what you're about to see after this commercial break, minus what happened before the commercial break, minus flashbacks to ironic statements made by participants earlier in the show, etc., there's -- what, fifteen minutes of video?


This is the major reason I don't watch over-the-air broadcasts or bother with cable TV.

If you stick with DVD and Watch Instantly, you find yourself hungering for less crap too. Everybody thinks commercials don't influence them, but you never realize the effects until you avoid them.


I've had TiVo for what, 8 years? I am to the point now I only watch commercials that are interesting (For instance, the MasterCard "Pure Imagination". But those are few and far between.) It seems that advertising agencies think if they are stupid enough and loud enough and obnoxious enough they will get some attention. Quill is dead on about avoiding commercials. They are, for the most part, a very toxic element in today's matrix.


The reason is because there were fewer channels back then so each one had a higher share of the viewers. Due to the smaller audience for each TV show today, they must run more commercials to make up for the lost advertising revenue. The stuff about the recent recession is nonsense.


The only way to stop this is to boycott tv broadcasts. Buy or rent DVDs that you want to watch


If you're watching over-the-air or free streaming (hulu or broadcaster website), you really shouldn't be complaining because the commercials are what lets you watch for free.


Scrivner, True watching commercials is the cost of watching the show, but why has the price more than doubled, and is that cost too high now? The answer is yes. It is way to high and not worth it. It does break up the flow of the show and hurts enjoyment.

As far as cable, cable has paid the provider(passing the cost to us) and many of these channels have MORE commercials than OTA!. It is no wonder we use DVR's and Netflix, we do not have the capacity or desire to sit through 18 minutes worth of commercials per hour.

It would seem that less is more, they should go back to the old amount of commercials. Although there are more channels to spread out the viewers, there are also many more people now, the economies of scale should still work out.

It would be interesting to see the amount of viewers watching shows now compared to 20-30 years ago when they had the less commercials I am betting that much of the increase has to do with stockholder expectations more than actual costs of production and revenue.

Also, maybe Charlie Sheen is only worth 200K an episode instead of 1M? Actors justify their value by the amount of commercial revenue they bring in. They feed of one another and us refusing to watch the commercial volume could just set off a normal chain of market adjustment; if they don't try to hold on for dear life like the record companies.



In 1960 the population was 179 million, and today 309 a difference of 130 million. It doesn’t directly mean anything, but I think that the spreading out of viewers could be offset by the amount of viewers available, and thus the amounts watching each show could be the same as before, especially for quality shows.

Costs of production has been brought up before, I am not sure, because though things were simpler then, current technology has made things less expensive now than then, adjusted to inflation. There is also DVD sales(often by fans that have already watched the show) and foreign distribution and DVD sales. My point is the thinning out and costs issues raised should be more than offset by increased population and higher economies of scale. It is difficult for us to know for sure, but these are real questions, it is possible that increases in commercial time is more about trying to increase profit more than anything else, or holding on to a good period that could not be sustained.

Sometimes you have to get beyond the talking points. They don’t always hold up to scrutiny


Luna, the in-show advertising you mention ("product placement") is actually a much more recent phenomenon. In fact, you'll see that on most old TV series, they go out of the way to use fictional non-brand products, presumably so as not to offend any potential advertiser who might make a similar product.

They did sometimes have the characters/actors in a show include a promo spot for an advertiser, but it was clearly that. It was not merely that a character was using a certain company's product.


In case there are readers out there who don't know how to skip commercials I will outline my practice. I'm sure most of the posters above don't need this advice.

I have a projector run through a new Onkyo receiver, a Roku box, and a Panasonic Blu-ray. I have a Comcast account and a set top box which includes a DVR. I was using a half dozen remotes it seemed so I got a Harmony 510. This universal remote is at the low end of their line but it does everything I need.

The Harmony is setup with a USB cable to your PC. Their website has a gazillion different models online. You can program the damn thing if you are ambitious but I just picked my equipment models from the menu choices. Everything I use was available. Very simple. No codes to enter.

The Harmony is also pre-programmed to skip commercials. If I have saved a show. I can watch it from the DVR menu. When the first commercial comes up I press the Skip button. Each press takes you forward about one minute. I press two or three times for a typical commercial. If I overshoot I press the replay button which takes me back about a half minute. It takes longer to explain this than it does to do it.

Let me emphasize that this is "out of the box" behavior for the Harmony - no programming or customization. Commercial skipping is a built in feature with dedicated buttons. Very damn easy.

Harmony doesn't advertise this feature. I suspect that there is some legal issue.


Rarely do I watch TV shows without my DVR to skip over commercials. I even use my DVR to pause-n-buffer live sports events so I can continue my skip crap craze. I've been consuming my TV content like this for over 5 years now. My DVR is an essential video appliance so, in my opinion, the evolution of TV commercials is extinction.

Sean Palladino

I may be a minority, but I love commercials. Especially commercials that are tailored to the specific show. For example, I was watching the season finale of ABC's V last night, and right when we are about to see the mutant human/visitor baby, a commercial for Google's DROID phone pops up. Clever timing!


Scott: A gentle correction. Product placement in films, radio>television goes back to the 1920's and 30's. It really isn't a new concept. The moneymen of commercial (broad sense) public media knew how to do it. Why do you think everyone in movies smoked? The cigarette makers paid dearly for that, and look how successful (?) it was. Watch older stuff a little closer and you will be very surprised what you will see. Cheers!


Scott, the product placement wasn't merely plugging an item. Back in the early days of TV, a corporate sponsor basically produced the show. Have you not seen the I Love Lucy boxsets with the Phillip Morris cigarette ads? They would have the stars do little skits promoting the product. Beverly Hillbillies and Flintstones were brought to you by smokes. They didn't need too much commercial time since they wanted you to focus on their product.

The BS of the recession causing more ad breaks is a lie. They've been doing this long before 2008. I remember being shocked to notice Spike was taking 3 hours to show a less than 2 hour Bond film. One minute of ads for every 2 minutes of action. Remember that the whole point of TV is to bring in certain demographics for their sponsors.


I had exactly the same reaction. I watch most TV shows on Netflix DVD, Netflix streaming, and Hulu. So going over to a friend's house and watching broadcast TV, it really is a shock - there are a staggering number of commercials. And what's worse is the mind numbing repetition of the same commercial during every commercial break.


This is news?

I've been using Tivos, and before that, VCRs for decades to avoid commercials. (One of the problems with using netflix streaming for things like documentaries is that I actually watch non-scripted shows on my non-Tivo recorder *faster than realtime*, and you can't do that with the streamed stuff.. so I'll just get the DVDs..)


This is why I haven't watched a television show with commercials for at least the past 5 years.

And once you get used to it, you can never go back. Commercials completely ruin the viewing experience. It really is that bad.

Ellen Yarbrough

You can thank the FCC for choking shows with commercials. Back in the 90's legislation was passed to stop the limit of commercials and allow as many as a network wanted. Naturally it's been taken advantage of in a huge way and will only get worse. Recession reschmesshin, it's another example of how government agencies created to protect the public have been turned into empty shells and serve only big money interests.

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