Fox’s Plan To Show Fewer Commercials Flops


Fox serves up just 10 minutes worth of commercials during each hour long episode of “Fringe.” That’s four to six minutes less than normal shows that length.

It’s part of an experiment Fox calls “Remote-Free TV,” which the network announced last May.

The hope was that advertisers would pay more for commercials viewers would be more likely to remember and less likely to fast-forward through. Nieslen says “Remote-Free TV,” commercials have 22% better brand recall.

Movie advertisers Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers and Universal like the format and purchased “Fringe” air time. So did American Express, Apple, Verizon Wireless and Wal-Mart.

So how’s the experiment working out? Jon Nesvig, the president of sales for Fox Broadcasting, told the New York Times “the jury is still out on the economics.”

No, it’s not. We did the maths and “Remote-Free TV” experiment seems like a flop.

The maths:

  • Fox has only been able to charge a 40% to 50% premium on “Fringe” spots — about $343,000 according to an AdAge study.
  • Figure then that Fox makes $6.86 million off 10 minutes of 30-second ads — 20 ads — during each “Fringe” episode.
  • If, like it normally would, Fox showed 32 ads at a 45% markdown from that premium, Fringe would pull about $7.6 million per episode.

Case closed, right? Maybe not. Jon says Fox cobbled together its “Remote-Free TV” plan at the last minute last May. With more time to prepare its pitch, Fox thinks it can sell the units at even higher premium this year. Either way, expect more experimenting, says Jon.

“There will be ongoing attempts to keep commercial viewing as high as possible. It behooves all of us to keep changing the model.”