Thursday, April 27, 2017

NBC.commercials

I missed the premier of GREAT NEWS on NBC Tuesday night, and I was curious to see it. Anything with Tina Fey attached is worth a look-see. (My quick review of GREAT NEWS: It felt like a very promising spec script of 30 ROCK.)

So I went to NBC.COM figuring they would have the episode available for screening. And they did.

I don’t usually watch shows on NBC’s website. In fact, I believe this was the first. (If Tina Fey was attached to TAKEN I might have watched that when it debuted. But she wasn’t.) I have watched shows on other networks’ sites and on ON DEMAND but never the Peacock’s.

The “com” in NBC.COM should be for “commercials.” I couldn’t believe it. I was inundated with them. Usually, when you stream a show or watch ON DEMAND there’s a :30 spot that pops up a couple of times. I get it. It’s the price I pay for the convenience of being able to watch the show on my schedule.

But this was ridiculous. There were as many or more than a broadcast half-hour. The show itself felt like an intrusion. And at least with a broadcast show I can fast-forward through the commercials and any promos for CHICAGO FIRE. Not here.

I’ll be honest, if I wasn’t in the industry, if I didn’t feel I was obligated to watch the entire show – I would have bailed by the second spot break. Tina Fey or no.

If a major objective of streaming network shows is to increase their sampling, NBC is going out of its way to chase away potential viewers. Do they receive that much revenue that it’s worth it to them to bombard the potential audience with commercials and clutter? What you are left with (assuming you stick it out) is a very unpleasant experience.

One way around this of course is to charge for their content. CBS All Access now has a subscription website. To entice eyes the “Eye” features dedicated fare like THE GOOD FIGHT and next year a new STAR TREK franchise (DEEP SPACE 10?). But other than that it’s just a lot of CBS programming, random movies, and a library of shows people are dying to see again like CAROLINE IN THE CITY and NASH BRIDGES. And in some cases, they don’t even offer the complete series. Only 50 episodes of TAXI are available. They made way more than that. (Not to mention that some of these series can also be seen on other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.)

I would hope that the one perk you get is no commercials, but I don’t subscribe to CBS.COM so I don’t know. Do they run commercials? My cynical guess is that they do. Less than NBC.COM but still, with CBS you’re paying for the service. So CBS would be hitting you twice. Again, that’s IF they have commercials. I’m just assuming they are. I would be very happy to be wrong.

I totally understand the need for commercials to support broadcast television. Commercials pay for the shows. But networks can be mortgaging their future by airing too many of them. And this becomes especially apparent while streaming because audiences are not conditioned to a heavy spot load. So there’s the danger that they’ll do more harm than good. What they think is GREAT NEWS might really be bad news.

31 comments :

Steve Bailey said...

I couldn't agree more. When I couldn't catch Whose Line Is It Anyway? on The CW, I tried for a while to watch it online. But each episode was so riddled with ads that I finally couldn't take it.

Joseph said...

CBS.com has two tiers. One has commercials and the other doesn't. I think it's a waste to pay for but my girlfriend likes the shows and we don't have cable or a dvr.

johnachziger said...

I don't subscribe to the CBS app, but do watch two shows on CBS.com because they are not on Hulu, namely NCIS & Big Bang Theory. Both have tons of commercials. NCIS has at least 5 commercial breaks, with 2-3 minutes of commercials in each break--often the same 3 or 4 commercials repeated 2-3 times. It's free (and I'm not available to watch them live on regular TV), but it's almost not worth it.

Ted said...

Since I "cut the cord" from satellite TV, I mostly stream shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. But I've given up trying to watch "free" shows on the network sites, because it's clear they have no idea what they're doing when it comes to ads. Yes, the commercial breaks are endless, but that's not they only issue. Sometimes they'll show the exact same ads over and over, which is like water torture. Sometimes they'll have a five-minute ad break before the show even starts, which is enough to make me give up on the idea of watching it. Sometimes there's a technical problem that keeps an ad from loading, and you can't even view the rest of the show. Sometimes all they have during commercial breaks are public-service announcements -- which means they weren't able to sell any actual ads, but would rather waste viewers' time than admit it.

I'd like to think this is just a period in which the networks are working out the kinks of streaming shows -- but in the meantime, we're all getting used to watching TV with no ads at all (even if it means waiting a few months or years until a series hits the streaming services). And it's such a pleasure that many of us will probably never go back to ad-supported TV.

Vickster said...

FYI - CBS All Access has commercials for 6.99 a month, and no commercials for 10.99 a month.
My fingers are crossed for the Star Trek show.

Vickster said...

P.S. I forgot to say Have a great day!

Mark said...

As time marches on I become less and less willing to sit through commercials, in any context. The Fox owned and co-owned channels are especially bad when it comes to overloading their streaming content with commercials. On some channels much of the advertising will drop off of an episode after it's been available for a couple of weeks or so. Some times it is possible to FF through the ads.

More and more I've had to confine my viewing to either commercial-free sources or the DVR for just this reason.

therealshell said...

The number of commercials on the CBS All Access "limited commercials" option (for $5.99 @ month) was ridiculous, but being a cheapskate, I went with it so that I could watch The Good Fight. After watching the first two episodes, I gave up and switched to the "no commercials" option (there was even a commercial for the "no commercials" option that popped up frequently on the "limited commercials" option !)

Now that The Good Wife has finished it's run, I cancelled my "contract" with the CBS folks.

When I first did that, I was offered a free month, but, perhaps sadly, there was nothing else that I was keen to watch on CBS.

steve said...

I had the same reaction when I made the mistake of trying to catch up on a network program by watching it online. If, and only if, this is a revenue stream that will allow the writers to get the money and benefits they deserve, I can live with the several minutes of inconvenience. I am neither a writer nor a producer, so my interest as an outsider is only in seeing the creators and writing staff getting their fair share. I know not from where the $51B in profits is derived, but I would imagine a portion, perhaps a fairly substantial portion, comes from advertisers. A catch-22, I suppose. The intrusion of so many ad spots turn people away from a show, yet the more eyes on a program, the better the chance for a run, which, in turn, means more writers employed. It's very confusing to me.

Demos Euclid said...

This is actually the reason I rarely watch TV anymore - broadcast or cable. When it got to the point where I felt like I was tuning in to watch commercials that were continually interrupted by scripted programming, I couldn't take it anymore.

Of course, it doesn't stop there. Even when you're watching a show or movie, they are frequently inundated with distracting, animated overlay ads for other shows, movies, and meaningless award shows ("And the trophy for best TV lawn care maintenance goes to..."). Between them, the station logo, and god knows what else, I feel like I'm trecking through a deep, overgrown jungle of crap to try and make out what's even going on. Watching a film showing of JURASSIC PARK with an animated Sheldon from Big Bang Theory popping up during the velocirapter scenes makes me wonder why the darn dinos aren't aiming for the easier prey!

What's worse is when they're edited for content, sped up, or, more egregiously, cut down for time - precious time that can be used for even more commercials! Who the heck is gonna sit down for three hours plus to watch a butchered, dumbed down hack job of a 90-120 minute movie?! It's frankly insulting.

Tim B. said...

I watch the Colbert Late Show on the CBS app and Supergirl on the CW app (both not paid), and they are riddled with ads. I think that Colbert ends up to be more than an hour with the ads. I imagine that the ads are more diverse on air; it's generally the same 3-4 ads incessantly played on the app. At least the Fuller House and Two Broke Girls ones are off rotation now. However, I do need to stock up on Xyxal at the moment.

CRL said...

Nice to see somebody finally got to use Andrea Martin......

Pizzagod said...

Total agreement Ken. I'm on the road and working when my shows are on, so I go to the websites to see them. It wasn't that long ago that it was as you said; maybe a spot at the beginning and the end. Now? OH MY GOD!

Well, the challenge is to do the bathroom or grab a cup of coffee without hitting pause, cause I'm sure not going to sit through it.

I'd be willing to pay a buck or even two to download the shows to my library and watch at my leisure. That's what I did with Maverick and Have Gun Will Travel on Amazon.

Tim M said...

Agreed there's way to many commercials on these network streaming sites. They're in a bit of a pickle because nobody is signing up for monthly access to CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX at 6-10 bucks a pop. A. It doesn't seem like a good value, and B. It's a hassle to sign up with emails, CC info, security question (what was the maiden name of your favorite teacher's mother?) etc.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The overabundance of commercials is a significant driver of torrenting and other methods of file-sharing for TV shows - the ads have already been cut out and a half-hour show comes neatly reformatted to its actual 19-minute length.

wg

ScottyB said...

Y'know, it wouldn't surprise me if there came a point where people -- regardless whether it's dot-com services or cable TV or network TV -- where people just go "Y'know what? Fuck all this shit," dump everything, and become an even *more*-fragmented audience the networks and studios are trying to chase for dollars. I also understand and accept the need for commercials in exchange for me not subscribing to a channel. (The minute or 1:50 during natural breaks on the ones I do watch are fine. I'm used to it.) I grew up with that shit from the days of the landscape being nothing but network TV. But holy hell, man -- it's become unbearably ridiculous these days, and quite frankly, not worth my time to be part of the grand cash-chasing experiment. On basic cable, MTV2 and Comedy Central are perhaps the worst offenders. MTV2 kills perfectly good sitcom reruns with a good dozen if not more (I'm not exaggerating here) commercials during the first break, and I've found Comedy Central speeding up its airings of 'That '70s Show' to chipmunk-speak speed. I'm to the point where I really don't give a rat's ass anymore about the whole business. I certainly don't want to turn off my TV and go do something else, but that's what I'm being driven to.

emmphx said...

I bought the cbs all-access commercial offering, for The Good Fight. (note: I could have bit-torrented it--I only bit-torrent shows I get on my directtv but forgot to dvr.) The commercials were not at all intrusive or excessive. I'll be dropping the subscription until Star Trek comes out. Handmaid's Tale on Hulu has a few more commercials. But fortunately you can see when they're coming up--the timeline is marked.

VP81955 said...

I haven't been able to use CBS All Access for financial reasons (haven't had work since February), but when I use it again, I want to be able to see every episode of my favorite sitcom, "Mom." (I've missed this entire season 4.) Chances are, however, I won't be able to catch up with eps I've missed from either this season or past ones.

McAlvie said...

Yes, the commercials are getting way out of hand. It isn't just streaming shows, either, that have that problem. I remember, speaking of Star Trek, when they were debuting The Next Generation. There was considerable hype about the first episode being extra long, but I remember thinking at the time that it just felt like it was extra long because of all the commercial breaks. And I never did finish watching Galavant. Loved the premise, but it was basically a string of commercials occasionally interrupted by a plot.

Yes, they are driving viewers away. I am turning to Netflix and PBS more often all the time. It used to be that cable networks were a little better, but not so much anymore.

MikeN said...

Demos, I am imagining an episode of Big Bang Theory with Sheldon watching Jurassic Park and complaining the same thing.

RyderDA said...

I'm OK with commercials on a streaming service with a broadcast network. I do get that I'm seeing a generic, non-regional/non-local version, so the need is for national advertising only (makes no sense to show me an ad for a hardware store in Hoboken). If the broadcast is commercial free over the air or on cable, that's the way it should be shown, and then yeah, charge me for it as it would cost me to subscribe to the cable service. Stream it on a network just as if I would watch it on TV.

I really don't mind commercials and didn't fast forward through them on a TiVo-show. Sure, there are aspects of them I don't like (some are annoying or dumb or too loud). But there's nothing wrong with them, and yep, I buy products and services based on advertising.

I find "excessive" commercials annoying, too, but simply because they (generally) show up when they shouldn't in the shows. Getting an extra 1-2 min of commercials during a break is OK. Idiotic pop up ads and bugs and floating ad banners that block the show, on the other hand, should be banned. There are commercial breaks. Use them.

Cap'n Bob said...

Why are you people, and many others, putting up with this crap when there are so many excellent books to read? Like Ken's and mine.

sanford said...

I notice some of you torrent shows. I normally don't watch shows on on the network web sites unless I forget to tivo it, or they interrupt with some news bulletin. Happens with Jeopardy here. How ever we get Chicago and Milwaukee stations so if some thing comes up I can watch it later on the Milwaukee station. How ever I am worried about using a torrent as you don't know if there is any malware. Just in case I want to torrent a show, which one should I use and how do you tell which link you should down load. Is there away to use your anti virus program to scan before you down load something.

AAllen said...

The network doesn't want to scoop the affiliate with a better streaming experience, so they throw on as many ads on the stream as in the broadcast. At least the streaming ads have a countdown timer, so you can mute the audio and block most of the screen with a stuffed animal or a book. It's really helped me catch up on my reading. Also, the ABC Roku app doesn't even have the ABC bug in the corner, so that makes it an improved viewing experience right there.

forg/jecoup said...

I like Great News, so much potential there. Andrea Martin was very funny

DwWashburn said...

I have this problem with the On Demand broadcast shows that our local cable system (Cox) shows. It seems to be the worst with CBS shows. For example when you watch Big Bang Theory on On Demand the meter at the bottom of the screen shows that the program will run 42 minutes. And as with most major stations, you are not allowed to fast forward through the commercials.

Betty said...

I'm watching Great News on Hulu with no commercials (yes, a hulu subscription with no commercials is worth every penny). I want to like it, and hope it finds its way soon, but...it seems like it's going for the joke at every opportunity, instead of a plot with real characters.

Would still love to hear what you have to say about "The Good Place."

Anonymous said...

Ken, I'm stunned you don't subscribe to the commercial-free version of Hulu. Most of the networks current shows, lots of great original programming and an increasingly deep and impressive bench of library content. Netflix is slowly abandoning their commitment to library content of both TV shows and films and Hulu is definitely picking up the slack.

Netflix will continue to erode their original mission statement at their peril. Sure, they're originals are hip and buzzy, but they are shooting themselves in the foot the more they strip away from the library.

-Jeff

Anonymous said...

"Great News" - Awful! Too predictable, characters change character and just to make the plot work. Ugh!

Brian said...

I agree. If anybody that has anything to do with the streaming experience for major networks is reading this, please consider a more realistic ad experience. A normal amount of ads would be OK, but what they have is in-humane. They have tried to give the user a choice - "a 30 second interactive ad or a 2 and a half minute non-interactive add. 2 and a half minutes? Are they crazy? If they don't get their act together, they will have no online viewers.

suek2001 said...

I have CBS All Access and they Do have commercials..and inordinate amount..if you ask me...they also have an "upgrade" for no commercials but I'm with Ken...If I am paying for Hulu..$8..and CBS All Access $6 then I should not expect commercials..Netflix is the rare streaming service with no commercials...
One random question though for for Ken...Is there a way to get your podcast on ROKU..I would on my phone but I hate the sound quality..and being attached to my laptop and heavy headphones isn't my thing....so is there a radio streaming service on Roku that has your podcast? I was also thinking of starting one someday but have no clue how...