With eight comedies and dramas premiering this fall -- seven of them in the next few weeks -- Walt Disney Co.'s ABC is making the unusual move of reducing the number of commercials in the premiere episodes of its new shows.
Although that may seem an odd decision in a tough economy when networks are scrambling for every advertising dollar they can get, they are also fighting to hold on to every viewer. ABC hopes that fewer ads will prevent people from switching the channel to a rival network.
The network is eliminating the first commercial break -- which typically occurs about eight minutes into an episode for comedies -- from new prime-time series, including "Cougar Town," "Modern Family" and "The Middle."
"You hope the longer you keep them at the start of the show, the more likely they are to stick to it," said Jeff Bader, ABC Entertainment's executive vice president and scheduling chief.