By Adrienne Tallacksen
I don’t own a TV. It wasn’t really a conscious decision—after my husband’s TV broke and I had to give a borrowed one back to its owner, we just didn’t bother to replace them. I can’t say I’ve missed having a TV all that much, but there are a few shows I still like to watch, and like many others, I watch them online.
There’s one show I’ve been watching online for a couple of years. The network, which will remain nameless, was nice enough to post the entire first season so I could catch up with the program after I’d missed the show’s broadcast television debut. I’ve enjoyed watching the show in an online setting. I can pause and rewind if needed, and while there are the same number of commercial breaks online as during the TV broadcast, there has been only one commercial per break…until now.
I don’t mind commercials—that’s not the problem here. In fact, I’d rather watch a program with a few commercials from a legal source than go to the trouble of looking for illegal downloads. My problem is that instead of getting the expected single 30-second commercial, it’s now followed up by another 15-second commercial. This may not sound like a big change, but it was startling and surprisingly annoying that commercial breaks are now half again as long as they used to be. I know, 15 seconds is next to nothing compared to a 45-minute program, but as a viewer I felt disrespected.
One 30-second commercial seems to have been the standard, but apparently the standard has changed. Now that there are two commercials, I’m more likely to spend the commercial break annoyed that there are two commercials, rather than give any of my attention to the commercials that air. When I knew there was only going to be one commercial, it did catch my attention, especially when one company advertised throughout the program. In my mind, this is a double whammy for advertisers—the consumer is annoyed and is also not paying attention to their ads.
This change isn’t enough to make me stop watching the program entirely, but it was enough to make me switch to Hulu.com, which carries the same program. And, for now at least, Hulu has stuck to one commercial per break, so that’s where I’ll be going to watch TV online.