commercial breaks
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Thread: commercial breaks

  1. #1

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    commercial breaks

    Why have they gotten so long?
    There are airchecks of WBBM from 1983-85, and the commercial breaks appear to be about 2 minutes. Now, there are only a few markets (Bend, Klamath Falls, and Elmira-Corning) that have breaks of that length. Everyone else has extended to like 6 minutes, and some stations even longer. For example WPOI in Tampa. Sure they run 101 minutes commercial-free, but they follow that up with 10 minutes of nonstop commercials. So, why are the breaks so long today?

  2. #2
    Probably your WBBM aircheck from 1985 has 4 or 5 breaks in an hour, and possibly even a newscast. It turns out that listeners like less clutter. Which means no more newscasts on music stations, and almost no one plays more than two breaks per hour.
    "Its music what makes a radio station, and at Live FM, we play the last music around."
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  3. #3

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    I do not feel qualified to offer a substantial answer to this but I believe it is because of many factors:

    1) Radio stations have proven they can deliver customers, more so than in the prior decades;
    2) Radio stations have done a better job selling the medium;
    3) The competitive thinking back in the 2 minute break time period was that it was best to run 4 to 6 short breaks an hour;
    4) Stations realized it was best to run fewer breaks with more spots when it came to retaining listeners. Most run two breaks an hour now.
    5) Radio values have increased over the years. Buyers were willing to pay higher multiples, so not only did number of units increase but so did rates;
    6) Most stations run about the same number of minutes they did then. Today its 6 minutes twice an hour instead of say, 6 breaks at two minutes;
    7) The advertisers still get the results they need.
    8) Radio has always had its seasonal ups and downs, so getting while the getting good is usually the attitude when stations don't use a grid system raise and lower rates based on ratings and/or demand. Radio has been forced to be more creative in selling, so while you might hear no spots late at night in the past, now a few extra bucks can get you on with more impressions in less desired times. Every little bit helps.

    Today's competitive media choices dictate the value and quantity more than they ever did. Likewise radio listening has changed dramatically. Today there are many listening choices for just over the air radio, not to mention non-on-air sources. People listen differently than in the early 1980s, so what once worked now doesn't. Incredible amounts of research have and continue to show what works and that advice is usually followed.

    I recall one major market station that ran about 15 minutes of commercials and promos at :45. Inside the break you heard a ticking clock between every couple of spots saying another 45 minutes of wall to wall music was coming up, or list a popular song coming up or an opportunity to win. The went to #1 although they were never ouside the top 5 anyway. I tought it would backfire. I was really wrong on that one.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobdavcav View Post
    Why have they gotten so long?
    PPM.

    With metered listening, we see that fewer breaks cause less listener loss with music stations.

    News/talk stations tend to have 4 breaks or more, spread out.
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  5. #5
    A somewhat related question...do you think that these formats somewhat align all of the breaks in terms of their timing?

    Friends have commented to me that every station in town seems to go to commercial break at the same time.
    Generally they discover this when the station they are listening to goes to commercial, so they tune to another
    station and find....another commercial. And then another.

    If they were under joint ownership I could see that being done deliberately. For example iHeart sending all of their
    music stations to break at the same time would make sense to capture that listener into commercials. But my
    friends claim they find ads running on the stations they don't own as well.

    I am guessing that is just a general formatting thing (research showing they should happen at :10 and :40 or somesuch)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreddyE1977 View Post
    A somewhat related question...do you think that these formats somewhat align all of the breaks in terms of their timing?
    Again, PPM data shows that the best place to put stopsets is over the transition between quarter hours. This will cause the least loss of quarter hour credit, whereby 5 minutes of listening in a quarter hour gives a station full credit for the quarter hour.

    The idea is that anyone who tunes in 4 minutes or less before the end of a quarter hour will not give the station credit for that quarter hour, so the least loss is incurred in starting stopsets at that point. Stations either do stops at :54 and :24 or ;11 and :41 for greatest effectiveness.
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  7. #7
    It's really not a new thing. FM music stations started doing segues of songs in the 70s. The number of three breaks an hour became widespread in the early 90s. The number of commercials an hour has actually gone down in recent years. There was a time when stations were running 18 minutes of commercials an hour. Now the average is 12. But there's a perception that this is something new, and it's not. A few years ago, some major market stations went from three breaks to two because of PPM. Fewer breaks for fewer interruptions. But they still have to run all the spots. No way around that.

  8. #8

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    David is right about this and the prior poster has noticed what has happened for many, many years, not just with radio but TV as well. Positioning of commercial breaks is purely dictated on keeping the most listeners.

    In recent years in PPM markets breaks have moved to the :15 and :45 area. In the paper diary days, breaks always went in the middle 5 minutes of the quarter hour and those quarter hours were rated by listening habits. There's always more listening in the first and 3rd quarter hours (:00 to :15; :30 to :45). Next is :15 to :30 past. Dead last in number of listeners is :45 to :00. So, as for commercials, you filled the :50 break first, the :20 break next, then :35 and if you absolutely had to, the :05.

    Now the trend everywhere the ratings count, is a two breaks per hour format: say :12 to :18 and :42 to :48 if you run 12 minutes an hour or :20 and :50 in paper diary markets.

    Why is it done? Simply to maximize ratings. Losing one surveyed person to another station can cost you because of the weight each surveyed listener carries against the ratio of number surveyed and market population. The difference can affect the commercial rate and overall income of a station.

  9. #9

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    This is interesting. I'm not sure where to find airchecks from the 80s where all the commercials are left in so I can count and compare, but there are some interesting answers here. With the research being clear with PPM, is Portland just a weird market? It wouldn't surprise me all that much. KGON, KNRK, KYCH, KFIS likely, and KWJJ are 15 and 45, and KXJM and KKCW end at 19 and 49. Everyone else is top and bottom pretty much, except for KLTH, which runs a longer music set at top of hour.

  10. #10

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    Another question and some observations:
    I was listening to All Things Radio today and they played an aircheck from KITS during its Hot Hits days in 1983. Did this format in general, or this station specificly have a low spot load? The spots in this aircheck were left in, which is a little unusual. It appeared there were two breaks an hour at either 15 and 45 or 20 and 50 (couldn't really tell but one really appeared at 45). In any event, two spots then back to music. Was this low for 1983? I revisited the WBBM airchecks today as I was thinking about this and it appears they ran 3 2-minute breaks per hour, no newscast. That's only 6 minutes of commercials, 9 at the most, couldn't tell whether they were 2 or 3 minutes specificly. Also, I've noticed that my local CHR KPWK, really screws up their clock during the week. Is there any research that says people don't like commercials at certain times?

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