As one who does not often watch regular TV, I had forgotten how intrusive ads can be. I was reminded of this all over again when I watched the Super Bowl and was taken aback by the sheer volume of the ” commercial interruptions”, a euphemism that does not make ads any more palatable. There were times when the ads seemed like the main event and the game itself a sideshow. Particularly egregious where the times when either team scored. Immediately, we were bombarded with three or four ads. Then a brief interruption lasting less than thirty seconds for the kickoff and the return ( less than 10 seconds actual playing time) and then another three or four ads before the next play. In all 6-8 ads sandwiched around a single play lasting a few seconds. I’m conscious of the huge amounts the networks pay to the NFL to air the game and I know they have to recoup them through ad revenue but … Isn’t there some point when it becomes too much? When the ads destroy our enjoyment of the game? I think there is and the line has long since been crossed.
Perhaps I am less inured to ads than regular viewers because most of my viewing is done through streaming services ( Netflix, Amazon Prime). I have gotten used to watching TV without commercial interruption and the difference between it and regular commercial TV is like night and day. This was brought home to me recently when I watched the USA network’s series ” Suits”. The first three seasons were available free to Amazon Prime members and we thoroughly enjoyed them. Entertaining characters, superlative scripts and interesting subplots. Enthralled by the series, we blazed through forty-four four episodes in less than two weeks. The later seasons were pay per view and we decided to postpone watching them, meanwhile joining season 4 in progress on the USA network. What a disappointment. The ads disrupted the narrative flow and it was difficult to sustain interest. It didn’t help that last week’s episode included a number of unnecessary flashbacks which added to our woes. We decided, then and there, not to watch the new episodes. Either we are going to wait for them to become available free to Amazon Prime members or pay $1.99 per episode and watch them immediately.
It’s not as if the commercials are interesting, funny or otherwise compelling. Even the Super Bowl ads were eminently forgettable.( The only one I remember is the Doritos ad). Even when I like the ad it’s not as if it is going to sway me to rush out and buy the product being advertised. For instance, my wife and I like the AT& T ads because of the pert spokesgirl featured in them but that doesn’t mean we are going to switch our telephone provider. I know advertisers must be getting value for their money but I find it difficult to understand how. Most viewers either tune out the ads or fail to remember the product being advertised. Could it be that , on some subliminal level, the ads are in fact getting through to us?