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This is the latest in BIA/Kelsey’s new Media Bytes series. On a periodic basis, BIA/Kelsey associate Mitch Oscar drills down and draws meaning from new products, events and corporate moves in the digital media world. An excerpt is below and the full report can be viewed or downloaded (free) here

Attention Please: Less as More

by Mitch Oscar

Combatting commercial ad avoidance has been a priority of the TV community since the mid 1980s when consumers, having a plethora of TV viewing options through the introduction of the cable operators’ qualitative multichannel offering (ESPN, Arts & Entertainment, MTV, CNN, and Discovery) as well as the accompanying handy remote control device, unwittingly initiated a phenomenon called channel surfing, which was primarily transacted during commercial breaks.

At the close of the 20th century, TiVo and Replay personal video recorders (PVRs) bowed, enabling viewers to actively time shift their viewing patterns and manipulate programming to fast forward through commercials. Media industry pundits calculated that in the analogue realm, 50% of commercials were not viewed as people left the TV viewing room to retrieve food, use the bathroom or make phone calls. In the PVR environ, that percentage augmented to nearly 80%. In the United States, 48% of TV households own one or more PVRs as of 2014.

In the last few years, TV viewers have been inundated with more services– on demand, connected, and over-the-top (OTT)– compounded with more TV viewing receptors, available in a multitude of sizes and motilities, and the introduction of ad blocking software exacerbating the ability of the TV commercial to entice the viewer to stay tuned. At stake: $65 billion in advertising revenue. This year, the trending engagement viewing model flaunts pragmatism over content and message, is agnostically applied across media channels by different platforms, and offers a simple “less as more” concept: watch a commercial at the head of the program, and the channel/platform/service promises to reduce your program’s commercial load by a substantial unquantifiable amount of non-program time. Fox Broadcasting, so enamored with the concept, spent $200 million to purchase TrueX, a software company that powers the “less as more” engine.

The following is a sampling of some of the primary efforts deployed by TV networks, platforms, and services to cajole the TV/video viewer into watching commercials that is leading to the promulgation of today’s “less as more” value proposition.

View the full report (free)


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