Advertising and other interruptions gobbled up more of Americans' favorite prime-time television shows last year, according to a study to be released today by two advertising industry groups.
The amount of commercials, network promotions and public service announcements aired on prime-time network TV increased by 25 seconds to an all-time high of 15:44 minutes per hour in 1998, according to the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers.
Media buyers claim this increasing "clutter," or non-programming content, is alienating viewers and making their clients' commercials less memorable.
"Ads are less effective than they were because there are too many messages launched at consumers' brains every second," said Tim Spengler, senior vice president of Los Angeles-based Western Initiative Media Worldwide.
Television executives counter that they have to promote their other shows and find a way to cover rising production costs.
In addition, they say, with cable channels grabbing more of network television's market share, they have to sell more time just to give advertisers the same punch they used to get.