Former NBC Entertainment Chief Discovers Watching TV With Commercials Really Sucks!

Categories: 1-Featured,TV Business

Written By

April 23rd, 2012

The same NYT piece that was surprised by spring ratings declines did yield a revealing (and amusing) quote from former NBC entertainment chief Jeff Gaspin.

After watching earlier seasons of The Walking Dead on Netflix, iTunes and recorded on his DVR he caught up and watched an episode live and had this reaction:

“We watched that live,” he said. “It was not nearly as good. The commercials broke the tension. We had watched the other episodes with blankets over our heads. I hate to say this to the AMC executives and everybody else in the business, but I will never watch ‘Walking Dead’ live again.”

So, when you're running the entertainment business for an ad supported broadcast network, ads are just fine! But when you're a viewer, they're not?

Film at 11!

Tip for Mr. Gaspin: Pause a one hour live show for about 20 minutes when it starts and then you can watch the rest without commercials. Take that extra 20 minutes to bone up on other electronic wizardry from the 21st century!

  • DW

    or if you dvr three shows back to back start the first one 45 minutes in. boom you hit right when the last show finishes and you see the ads too. just a little faster. :)

  • Jerry

    Even if I watch a show “live” that I’m recording I generally start 20 minutes into it so I can skip all the commercials.

  • jay

    I have thought for years that the future of broadcast tv is in product placement. I am surprised it hasn’t become more prominent or that some network hasn’t been willing to broadcast a show sans commercials that is “presented by product X” and has that product or family of products placed on set…

  • jay

    Meant to add–you can’t fast forward through a product placement..

  • Bill Gorman

    “I have thought for years that the future of broadcast tv is in product placement. I am surprised it hasn’t become more prominent or that some network hasn’t been willing to broadcast a show sans commercials that is “presented by product X” and has that product or family of products placed on set…”

    No chance placement becomes a major source of revenue for most shows, the logistics around it are just *way* too difficult.

    Product placement for a very wide variety of products/services is impossible, limiting what can be advertised.

    Coordinating the selling of product placements, with episode writing and production on a scale large enough to make it a major source of revenue would be an absolute nightmare.

  • psychic

    Commercials suck. I want to get my mindless brainwashing from things I care about (television shows), not from countless commercials encouraging me to buy Swiffer.

  • AppleStinx

    I’ve got used to commercials on TV as “the way things are”, even though most of them are annoying by the persuaders that are used. On the other hand, I find the presence of commercials on the PC to be intolerable.
    Just last night, I watched episode #3 of ‘Chopped All-Stars’ on TV, no problem when commercials are on, I’m off to do something else, check another channel or even sit through. Later I caught up with episode #2 (which I missed) via browser. How long was each commercial break? Say 10 seconds? No matter, I was irritated to death; don’t know why that happens.

  • Tessa

    the future of broadcast tv is in product placement.

    So then during an episode of The Tudors we will see Henry VIII break out his iPhone 4S and send a text to the pope saying, “Yo! dvrcing m 1st wife & U can do nthn!”

  • Jay S.

    House set the standard for product placement earlier this season when they actually had two characters riding in a Ford and commenting on what an awesome car it was. It wasn’t done as a joke, either.

    Product placement may not be the answer for the networks but we’re going to be seeing a lot more of it anyway.

  • SarahL

    Ha, Gaspin learning the hard way. With the exception of two shows, I watch the few tv shows that I do live. I keep my laptop on in front of me so I can surf the ‘net during commercials. I have also mastered the art of timing the commercials so I can go to the kitchen for a snack or go to the bathroom.

  • Name

    The future is subscription-based, with pay-per-view for old seasons and substantially less “channels.” Instead of Netflix, there’ll be a FOX app (or Netflix will break it up into individual subscriptions).

    That’s really the only way I see it working.

  • saul

    Haven’t seen a TV ad in years…my wife and I DVR everything so we can fast forward through the commercials.

  • Cath

    The good thing about so many ads on network TV is that you can watch them OR have time to do something else, like go to the bathroom or fix a sandwich or get a drink. These days breaks are so long.

    Product placement is not a bad idea. A lot of the CBS sitcoms do it. As long as it is done cleverly, why not?

  • CP

    That’s why I always use ESPN or some kind of sporting event to flip back to during commercials if I’m watching something live. Although some commercials are entertaining.

  • Hoose

    I generally don’t care for product placement, but Psych is pretty funny with theirs without hurting the show. Think it just may be easier to get away with in comedy.

  • SJ Adams

    Not a huge fan of commercials and see them as a necessary evil, however, I would rather commercials in a two or three minute slot during a program or at the end of the program.

  • KoolRebel

    I DVR everything even the 11PM news, so I can skip the commercials. It ruins the laughter, tension, fear, etc. If you need to do something like phone call, bathroom break or both at the same time, just pause the DVR. That easy. TV is great again, I just wish they had better shows on.

  • Alex

    Was there a reason why the Fringe experiment of extending the show to 50 mins and have one sponsor for the whole show didn’t work?

    I thought it was a brilliant idea. Had it stilled aired that way, I wouldn’t fast forward it ever. Still would DVR it since I have a life on Fridays.

  • One

    I recall Gaspin thought a lot of bad things were good. Why should we listen to him on commercials?

    To be fair, I usually go into the kitchen during commercials (sorry, advertisers!), but even so, they’re at worst a necessary evil.

  • Kay Lhota

    Back in the 1960’s an average hour program ran about 52 minutes, less commercials. Now the average has been reduced to 43 minutes. I am not one to complain because ads are placed in the hopes that we will consider purchasing the sponsors products, but sometimes the ads really run together, especially when the products are so similar. Cars, mobile phones, fast foods, and so forth. It’s not as effective when I can’t remember between AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint all in the same hour.
    I also hate that there is no time between television programs. It used to allow me a short breather at 8:58 to 9:00. I wish that the networks would give us back that minute or two. I hated losing the last two minutes of “Once Upon a Time” last night when I recorded it.

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures