Many people have noticed that certain long-cherished Christmas Specials don’t seem quite so special any more. Endearing scenes, gags and dialogues you remember from the past seem to be missing. Is this possible? And if so, what has replaced them? The answer is simple, since the time slot is fixed, parts of the show have been cut to make time for more commercials. Ho, ho, ho.
I seldom watch a TV program when it is first broadcast and I suspect others feel the same way. If the program is recorded for viewing later, on a device that enables fast forwarding, that’s fine, but I can no longer watch a first time show because of the commercials. Over the years, the number and length of commercials has grown to the point that they make up about a third of broadcast time on most channels. This means that the continuity of shows is shattered by the interruptions to the point that not only is the narrative flow constantly broken, but sometimes it’s hard to remember what the show is even about.
Now, I understand that the advertisers pay the bills and that’s just fine. They have to make a living, too. Without advertisers, commercial TV would not exist, and that’s a bad thing (I think). But the number and length of these interruptions have been growing over time until, like parasites killing a host, they threaten to make the underlying programs unwatchable. When this happens, the commercials become useless because no one is watching them.
Well, maybe you don’t care. Maybe you surf the web instead. Sorry, but the plague is making inroads here as well. Pop up ads are getting more sophisticated and more ubiquitous. Programmers have long made the little x link to delete the ad almost microscopic so they are hard to find, but now some ads seem to have no x at all, and the ad covers the entire screen. To make these ads even more intrusive, many ads are videos or audio files that play automatically when you open the site. These ads are sometimes hidden so it is hard to find a place to turn them off. Some even play on even if you leave the site. Your only defense is to put the computer settings on mute.
So I would say to both content providers and advertisers to tread carefully. As the advertising piles up, at some point, all the people who are now flocking to your program/site may well find that it’s just not worth the effort. A dollar bill is worth picking up off the ground, even if it has a little dirt on it, but not if it’s buried in a pile of manure.