Fox wants to cut commercial time to 2 minutes per hour

Comcast crashes Murdoch's Sky bid
Comcast crashes Murdoch's Sky bid

Fox wants to shave the advertising on its networks to two minutes per hour.

The company says it hopes to hit that target by 2020. The change would apply to the Fox broadcast network and cable channels like FX and Fox's sports networks.

"We feel like we work in this attention economy, and essentially where this market has gone sideways is that we're not properly valuing the consumer's time and attention," said David Levy, the executive vice president of non-linear revenue at Fox Networks Group. "There's more things competing for your attention than ever, so the price of attention has gone up."

Levy said the company might change ad pricing, and that may mean charging more in some circumstances.

Levy told CNN on Tuesday that Fox Networks Group has already cut commercials on some platforms, like the FX digital service, FXNOW.

The news was first reported Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal, which said the company announced its new ad goal at a private industry event last week in Los Angeles.

Fox Networks Group, which is owned by the media conglomerate 21st Century Fox (FOX), is not the only company to tinker with commercial time.

Related: Why you'll see fewer ads on NBC this fall

NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast (CMCSA), said last week that it would cut commercial time during its original prime time lineup this fall.

TNT and TruTV have also trimmed ad time. (Their parent company, Time Warner (TWX), also owns CNN.)

Advertising experts told CNN last week that the change makes sense for traditional TV networks because viewing habits — especially for young people — have shifted toward streaming services like Netflix.

Advertisers are also trending toward digital. Online advertising sales surpassed TV last year, according to Magna, a company that monitors audience trends. Magna forecasts digital ad sales of $237 billion this year, compared with $183 billion for TV.

As the industry has changed, television networks have experimented with new ad types, including very short ads and the "double box," when a program and an ad are broadcast side-by-side.

Levy, the Fox executive, said the company will try different formats as it works toward its two-minute goal. He cited as an example the six-second advertisement, which the company has experimented with over the past year.

The trend toward fewer commercials isn't that popular within the industry, though. Brian Wieser, a senior advertising analyst at Pivotal Research Group, told CNN last week that some networks run as much as 20 minutes of commercials per hour of programming.

According to Nielsen data cited by the Journal, the average amount of ad time per hour on broadcast TV in 2017 was about 13 minutes, and 16 minutes on cable.

Disney (DIS) plans to buy most of 21st Century Fox, including its cable channels like FX and National Geographic, and its regional sports networks. It's not clear how the Fox advertising plan might be affected by that deal.

Levy said Tuesday that it's business as usual at the company, adding that they are focused on that overall goal of how they can create a competitive ad-supported model.


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