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TV networks accused of ‘pushing boundaries’ on ad break length with major reality shows

the voice logoThe major TV networks have all been accused “pushing the boundaries” on the number of ads in their major franchise reality shows such as The Voice, House Rules and Masterchef, filling up to a third of the program run times with commercials.

Analysis put together for Mumbrella on the major reality franchises for Seven, Nine and Ten shows indicates all three have been running more than the permitted 14 minutes stipulated in the Commercial TV Code of Practice.

According to data supplied by advertising monitoring company Ebiquity from the nights of May 5, 6 and 7, Nine’s The Voice is the worst offender with a program on May 5 running 29 minutes and 10 seconds of advertising in an 1 hour 37 minute program.

Media analyst Steve Allen said: “They are pushing the boundaries no question in over commercialising a key program and the risk that they take, which obviously they have calculated, is that the advertising volume will actually detract and they will start to lose audience as a result of it. That’s the problem.”

All of the networks have been able to circumvent the Code of Practice advertising limits, filling their reality show franchises with ads but but running less ads in the subsequent half hour after the program.

“They have made a judgement that this style of show where there are exciting peaks and troughs they can get away with it,” said Allen.

“If this was a drama where there is a storyline and not the peaks and the troughs and there was the same level of interruption it would be a turn off.”

Nine packed more than 19 minutes of ads into the first hour of The Voice on Wednesday May 7, just 30 seconds more than House Rules had for its entire one hour and 12 minute programme on Tuesday May 6.

Meanwhile Ten had the longest single ad break of the three on the three nights analysed, with a 4 minute and 59 second break for commercials 20 minutes into the show on May 7, according to the data.

According to the  Commercial TV Code of practice, posted on the FreeTV website, TV networks should not run more than 14 or 15 minutes of advertising or promotions in any hour of primetime television.

It states:

“On any day each licensee may in each hour schedule on average no more than the following amounts of non-program matter:

5.6.1 between 6.00pm and midnight outside election periods, 13 minutes;

5.7 In any hour, each licensee may (provided that the averages in Clause 5.6 are satisfied) schedule the following amounts of non-program matter:

5.7.1 between 6.00pm and midnight outside election periods – up to 15 minutes per hour, but with no more than 14 minutes scheduled in any four of those hours;

However networks are able to work around this by limiting the amount of advertising they schedule within a wider viewing period divided between 7pm and 8.30pm, 8.30pm and 9.30pm, and 9.30pm and 11pm.

Therefore if they put more ads in the higher rating times of 7pm to 8.30pm and 8.30 to 9.30pm, and less from 9.30pm onwards, they can stay within the Code.

A spokeswoman for Channel Ten said: “It’s not unusual to have seven breaks during a 90 minute programme, or to have a break of between four and five minutes in length. The Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice (Code) sets limits on the amount of non-program matter – TVCs and program promos – we may schedule. We abide by these limits.”

However there are further limitations on advertising set out in the Advertiser Code of Ethics and the Code for Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children, which sets out rules for the kind of advertising and promotional material that can be shown before 8.30pm.

Channel Ten was found to have breached this when showing an ad for the Jack the Ripper inspired drama Ripper Street during Masterchef last year.

Allen, a media analyst with Fusion Strategy, said the regime basically meant that the networks were largely left to self regulate the issue.

“The really odd thing is practically always these shows have higher audiences toward the end and in the second half than at the beginning. Mind you, this is a bit of an acid test, as these are the most popular shows at the moment on the networks, so the ones most targeted by advertisers and media buyers.”

“With no ‘regulations’, it is up to each network to judge where this becomes a switch off from viewers.”

Allen also said he felt that subscription television, which has traditionally had a lower ad density was also increasing the amount of advertising within its programming.

“I might also say as a Foxtel subscriber, my recent impression is for their best shows that are way over their allusion to around half the commercial content. My impression is they are pushing 12 or more minutes in some shows.”

Both Masterchef and The Voice had seven ad breaks on all three nights, while House Rules had five ad breaks on the Tuesday and Wednesday, and seven on Monday, the highest rating night of the three.

Channel Nine had the longest advertising run of the three free to air networks  with a total of 29 minutes and 10 seconds of ads during the 1 hour and 37 minute show, 30 per cent of the run time.

Seven was not far behind with a total 28 minutes and 15 seconds of ads during one hour and 37 minutes of House Rules on the same night.

When asked about the high density of ads during The Voice, a spokeswoman for Channel Nine said: “The mix of commercials and promotions can vary within specific hours at any time but it is always with the Code’s hourly limits.”

And a Channel Seven spokesman said: “Seven takes its broadcasting responsibilities very seriously and has sophisticated scheduling systems in place to ensure we do not exceed the permitted advertising limits.”

Megan Reynolds and Nic Christensen 

The Voice:

5th May Time Ad break duration
Segment 1 – Show Starts 19:35:28
Adbreak 1 starts 19:50:21 3 mins 41 secs
Segment 2 starts 19:54:02
Ad break 2 starts 20:06:25 3 mins 36 secs
Segment 3 starts 20:10:01
Ad break 3 starts 20:19:54 3 mins 49 secs
Segment 4 starts 20:23:43
Ad break 4 starts 20:30:04 4 mins 46 secs
Segment 5 starts 20:34:50
Ad break 5 starts 20:41:30 4 mins 19 secs
Segment 6 starts 20:45:49
Ad break 6 starts 20:53:22 4 mins 29 secs
Segment 7 starts 20:57:51
Ad break 7 starts 21:04:56 4 mins 30 secs
Segment 8 starts 21:09:26
Program ends 21:13:26
Program Duration 1hr 37 mins 58 secs
Ad breaks 7 29 mins 10 secs

 

6th May Ad break duration
Segment 1 – Show Starts 19:33:38
Adbreak 1 starts 19:45:11 3 mins 48 secs
Segment 2 starts 19:48:59
Ad break 2 starts 19:59:23 4 mins 0 secs
Segment 3 starts 20:03:23
Ad break 3 starts 20:11:24 3 mins 20 secs
Segment 4 starts 20:14:44
Ad break 4 starts 20:22:08 4 mins 30 secs
Segment 5 starts 20:26:38
Ad break 5 starts 20:34:24 4 mins 10 secs
Segment 6 starts 20:38:34
Ad break 6 starts 20:49:29 3 mins 32 secs
Segment 7 starts 20:54:01
Ad break 7 starts 21:02:11 4 mins 9 secs
Segment 8 starts 21:06:20
Program ends 21:14:47
Program Duration 1 hr 41 mins 9 secs
Ad breaks 7 27 mins 29 secs

 

7th May Ad break duration
Segment 1 – Show Starts 19:35:48
Adbreak 1 starts 19:46:03 4 mins 20 secs
Segment 2 starts 19:50:23
Ad break 2 starts 19:58:20 3 mins 55 secs
Segment 3 starts 20:02:15
Ad break 3 starts 20:10:26 3 mins 45 secs
Segment 4 starts 20:14:11
Ad break 4 starts 20:22:48 3 mins 30 secs
Segment 5 starts 20:26:18
Ad break 5 starts 20:33:38 3 mins 30 secs
Segment 6 starts 20:37:08
Ad break 6 starts 20:48:35 3 mins 9 sevs
Segment 7 starts 20:51:44
Ad break 7 starts 20:59:46 3 mins 40 secs
Segment 8 starts 21:03:26
Program ends 21:11:17
Program Duration 1 hr 35 mins 29 secs
Ad breaks 7 25 mins 49 secs

Masterchef:

5th May Time Ad break duration
Segment 1 – Show Starts 19:32:29
Adbreak 1 starts 19:51:33 3 mins 38 secs
Segment 2 starts 19:55:11
Ad break 2 starts 20:09:22 3 mins 17 secs
Segment 3 starts 20:12:39
Ad break 3 starts 20:21:14 3 mins 47 secs
Segment 4 starts 20:25:01
Ad break 4 starts 20:31:56 3 mins 47 secs
Segment 5 starts 20:35:43
Ad break 5 starts 20:43:37 4 mins 2 secs
Segment 6 starts 20:47:39
Ad break 6 starts 20:53:08 2 mins 3 secs
Segment 7 starts 20:55:11
Ad break 7 starts 21:00:31 3 mins 32 secs
Segment 8 starts 21:04:03
Program ends 21:08:07
Program Duration 1hr 35 mins 38 secs
Ad breaks 7 26 mins 6 secs

 

6th May Time Ad break duration
Segment 1 – Show Starts 19:31:54
Adbreak 1 starts 19:46:40 3 mins 57 secs
Segment 2 starts 19:50:37
Ad break 2 starts 20:00:43 3 mins 16 secs
Segment 3 starts 20:03:59
Ad break 3 starts 20:14:43 3 mins 47 secs
Segment 4 starts 20:18:30
Ad break 4 starts 20:28:28 3 mins 32 secs
Segment 5 starts 20:32:00
Ad break 5 starts 20:39:54 3 mins 34 secs
Segment 6 starts 20:43:28
Ad break 6 starts 20:48:44 1 min 52 mins
Segment 7 starts 20:50:36
Ad break 7 starts 20:57:32 3 mins 37 secs
Segment 8 starts 21:01:09
Program ends 21:08:20
Program Duration 1 hr 36 mins 26 secs
Ad breaks 7 23 mins 35 secs

 

7th May Time Ad break duration
Segment 1 – Show Starts 19:32:04
Adbreak 1 starts 19:47:01 3 mins 56 secs
Segment 2 starts 19:50:57
Ad break 2 starts 19:57:22 3 mins 28 secs
Segment 3 starts 20:00:50
Ad break 3 starts 20:12:35 2 mins 46 secs
Segment 4 starts 20:15:21
Ad break 4 starts 20:24:38 3 mins 37 secs
Segment 5 starts 20:28:15
Ad break 5 starts 20:36:46 4 mins 59 secs
Segment 6 starts 20:41:45
Ad break 6 starts 20:47:05 1 min 32 secs
Segment 7 starts 20:48:37
Ad break 7 starts 20:55:25 3 mins 38 secs
Segment 8 starts 20:59:03
Program ends 21:03:06
Program Duration 1 hr 31 mins 2 secs
Ad breaks 7 23 mins 56 secs

House Rules:

5th May Ad break Duration
Segment 1 – Show starts 19:32:15
Ad break 1 starts 19:44:26 4 mins 6 secs
Segment 2 starts 19:48:32
Ad break 2 starts 19:54:41 4 mins 15 secs
Segment 3 starts 19:58:56
Ad break 3 starts 20:11:29 3 mins 55 secs
Segment 4 starts 20:15:24
Ad break 4 starts 20:23:25 4 mins 25 secs
Segment 5 starts 20:27:50
Ad break 5 starts 20:34:58 3 minutes 5 seconds
Segment 6 starts 20:38:03
Ad break 6 starts 20:44:07 3 mins 45 secs
Segment 7 starts 20:47:52
Ad break 7 starts 20:57:49 4 mins 44 secs
Segment 8 starts 21:02:33
Show Ends 21:09:54
Program Duration 1 hr 37 mins 39 secs
Ad breaks 7 28 mins 15 secs

 

6th May Ad break Duration
Segment 1 – Show Starts 19:31:54
Ad break 1 starts 19:47:45 4 mins 6 secs
Segment 2 starts 19:51:51
Ad break 2 starts 20:03:41 4 mins 14 secs
Segment 3 starts 20:07:55
Ad break 3 starts 20:15:02 3 mins 1 sec
Segment 4 starts 20:18:03
Ad break 4 starts 20:24:38 4 mins 19 secs
Segment 5 starts 20:28:57
Ad break 5 starts 20:34:01 3 mins 50 secs
Segment 6 starts 20:37:51
Program ends 20:44:23
Program Duration 1 hr 12 mins 29 secs
Ad breaks 5 19 mins 30 secs

 

7th May Ad break Duration
Segment 1 – Show starts 19:32:35
Ad break 1 starts 19:46:31 4 mins 6 secs
Segment 2 starts 19:50:37
Ad break 2 starts 19:57:05 4 mins 11 secs
Segment 3 starts 20:01:16
Ad break 3 starts 20:07:37 4 mins 10 secs
Segment 4 starts 20:11:47
Ad break 4 starts 20:22:57 4 mins 55 secs
Segment 5 starts 20:27:52
Ad break 5 starts 20:36:01 5 mins 14 secs
Segment 6 starts 20:41:15
Program ends 20:48:05
Program Duration 1 hr 15 mins 30 secs
Ad breaks 5 22 mins 36 secs

Data supplied courtesy of Ebiquity.

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