Coming to NBC in fall 2018: Fewer commercials

NBCUniversal will give viewers of “This Is Us,” “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Shooter” a little more time with their favorite shows next season — and a little less time to advertisers.

The company has said it will cut back on the number of commercials viewers see in primetime in 2018-19. Shows across NBCU’s channels — including NBC, E!, USA and Syfy — will feature about 20 percent fewer ads next season, along with a 10 percent reduction in commercial time. So instead of five 30-second ads during a commercial break, viewers might see two or three longer ones.

Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and client partnerships at NBCUniversal, is framing the change as both a response to changing viewing habits — shows on streaming services are either ad-free or have shorter breaks — and as a way to offer advertisers more for their money.

And, presumably, also make more money for NBCU: A promotional video touting the changes features the word “premium” three times in under two minutes, and if basic economic principles hold, cutting the supply of ad time should mean more demand (and higher prices) for what remains.

The company is also touting what it calls the “Prime Pod,” a 60-second ad break in the first or last commercial position for a show that will be sold to one or two advertisers. NBCU is also promising better targeting of consumers using artificial intelligence and new types of ads, some of which will play off of or integrate with the programs people are watching.

For shows, a 10 percent reduction in commercial time could mean an increase of two to four minutes in episode length.

The changes will take effect across NBCUniversal’s primetime programming starting in fall 2018.