TV Ad Break Intervals

When I watch a movie on TV, I’ve observed that the time inter­val between ad breaks is not uni­form, rather it decreas­es as the movie pro­gress­es. Towards the end, it is almost like the Fibonac­ci in reverse.

What I mean is when the movie starts, there are no ads for, say, the first 30 min­utes. After the 1st break, the next break will then be after 25 min­utes. Next, 20. And so on. And final­ly, when the cli­max is just around the cor­ner, and you’re at the edge of your seat, you’re bom­bard­ed with ads faster than Himesh can spring a new song/­mu­sic-video on you. Well, you got my point.

What I’d like to know is, is this real­ly true? Have you expe­ri­enced this? I haven’t checked it out sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly and Google didn’t help either. Is this:

- True, because adver­tis­ers know that the far­ther you’ve been watch­ing the movie, the more like­ly you’re watch­ing it with inter­est, the more like­ly you have some com­pa­ny also watch­ing it (more eye­balls), the more like­ly you wouldn’t want to waste any sin­gle scene dur­ing the cli­max and thus stick to your seat!


- False, because it is a Tem­po­ral Illu­sion, where the more engrossed we are in the movie, the faster time pass­es by. Hence, though the ad break inter­vals remain the same, the inter­vals appear short­er to us, because the time we watch the movie appears to pass by faster!

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  • Found this although it does­nt have answers to your spe­cif­ic doubt. But from per­son­al expe­ri­ence, I feel that since movies are designed to have more sus­pense points in the lat­ter half, thus pro­vid­ing more oppor­tu­ni­ties for ads to be insert­ed.

  • Shailesh

    I think it is true. That is how the net­work exec­u­tives should keep their price struc­ture too!
    But I am above all this nowa­days. I have DVR at home and it has been a life chang­ing event. No com­mer­cials!!

  • I nev­er quite though of it like that. I don’t have the answer, but I expe­ri­ence the same thing dur­ing engross­ing movies.
    By the way, I found your site through a link on “Ram­bodoc at large.” He and I share links. If you get a chance, check out my blog. If you like it, I would love to share links with you also. If you agree, leave me a com­ment on one of my posts. I find your posts to be very enter­tain­ing and thought pro­vok­ing at the same time.

  • Anoth­er obser­va­tion: Dura­tion of ads decreas­es as the movie pro­gress­es.
    At least I have expe­ri­enced it in the movies shown on DD once a week at night.