Networks front-load early shows with more ads

2014-05-31_0133Networks are running more ads earlier in the evening, and fewer later at night, when viewing and ad-rates are higher.

It’s a practice that has been going on for years.

Mumbrella has published some interesting results that show The Voice ran 29 minutes and 10 seconds of advertising in a 1 hour 37 minute program on May 5.

Seven was not far behind with a total 28 minutes and 15 seconds of ads during one hour and 37 minutes of House Rules on one night.

TEN had the longest single ad break of the three networks on the three nights analysed, with a 4 minute and 59 second break in MasterChef on May 7.

The Commercial TV Code of Practice restricts them to not more than 14 or 15 minutes of advertising or promotions in any hour of primetime television:

“On any day each licensee may in each hour schedule on average no more than the following amounts of non-program matter:
5.6.1 between 6.00pm and midnight outside election periods, 13 minutes;
5.7 In any hour, each licensee may (provided that the averages in Clause 5.6 are satisfied) schedule the following amounts of non-program matter:
5.7.1 between 6.00pm and midnight outside election periods – up to 15 minutes per hour, but with no more than 14 minutes scheduled in any four of those hours;

All three networks indicated they fell within the Guidelines.


  1. Elizabeth C

    Big bucks are made when shows like The Voice is on. I know for a fact that in regional centres the local ads get bumped because the big companies will pay a lot of money to show their ads in these time slots. It makes me sick that the television networks do this. It’s plain greed. In addition I can’t believe that these reality shows are extended beyond the hour just to throw in another 10 or 20 minutes of ads!!

  2. The Project seemed to go to an ad break every few minutes last week. They need to be careful otherwise people will PVR every show and get half their life back.

  3. Maev....Sydney

    Bazza May 31, 2014 at 2:50 pm –
    People still sit through ads?
    Nope!…I go to the bathroom…make a sandwich and coffee…wash dishes…cook a meal..check mail…and check TV Tonight…
    All that ad time can be quite productive….if they had quick ad breaks…I might actually stay and watch.

  4. The networks are good at getting it right. Whenever complaints have been investigated they always scrape in a few seconds under the limit.

    Matters less these days since viewers don’t have to watch the ads if they don’t want to.

  5. So glad I’m not watching any of the 3 realities at the moment.

    I really don’t know how anyone can watch any of them live – they all go on forever – and on multiple nights (9.20pm finishes for a 7.30 start? Come on! So much else happens in those nearly 2 hours) – Masterchef at least is closest to finishing at 8.30 like they all should.

    When I was watching The Block I would record and play back later in the week, playing at 1.5 speed and skipping challenge episodes – Would sometimes get the whole week of the Block into 2 hours or less!

  6. RightWingConservative

    How did Mumbrella reach those figures? A decent amount of content in the breaks during a program (especially prime time programming) counts as “exempt non-program material” (CSAs and station IDs, for example) and things such as sneak peeks count as program time. If you watch carefully, many networks will run a sneak peek for a couple minutes and then follow it with a short five or ten second promo indicating the time that the program in the sneak peek will air, which allows them to only use 5 or 10 seconds of their “non program” quota while running the very long sneak peek to promote a program.

  7. Secret Squirrel

    @Brekkie – no, the limits are averages. That means in each 1 hour block betw 6pm and midnight a station could show 15, 25, 20, 10, 10, and 10 minutes of non-program content (traditional ads + promos).

    It makes commercial sense for them to put the most ads where the greatest number of eyeballs are. Doesn’t affect me because I don’t watch those shows.

  8. House Rules may have less product olacement but I timed it last week where a segment ran for 9 minutes followed by 5 minutes of ads/promos. Thats only 30 minutes of content per hour.

  9. So in theory they can air 15 minutes in the 6pm hour and in the 7pm hour, 14 minute in the 8pm, 9pm and 10pm hour leaving 6 minutes for the 11pm hour. 78 minutes in 6 hours. That’s assuming an “hour” starts at the top of the hour considering stations work from the bottom of the hour.

    And just for comparison in the UK the main broadcasters can air no more than 40 minutes of ads from 6pm-11pm, with no more than 12 minutes an hour and an average of 7 minutes an hour across the day (9 minutes for digital channels). So from 6pm-midnight they can air 52 minutes of ads, 12 minutes of which are after 11pm.

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