Last year, I watched a few movies on cable. Early in the year, I watched an airing of Jackass: The Movie on MTV. It's not lengthy, but there was a point in the middle of the film where it was bombarded with two straight breaks of seven to eight minutes. A few months later, I watched the 60s version of The Jungle Book on Freeform. That film was not lengthy, either, but it was reaching points where it had some of the commercial lengths as Jackass did and had a two hour fifteen minute air time on the channel. As I look at some of these channels, it's been very evident for years that they are desperate for money and a few extra commercials is their way of getting more revenue in a time where people are going to Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and other sites to get their TV or movie fix. The thought of every channel going seven minutes is a scary one.
As of now, the biggest offender is Viacom. Most of their channels employ tactics to get extra commercials. The air times on stuff like Comedy Central, MTV, and BET is beyond absurd and stupid. Looking at what is on for films for the rest of the week, two films had three and a half hour air times. These weren't dramas or even mob films. They were comedies that aren't that long. One clocked at below an hour fifty and the other was a few minutes past two hours. The tactic might work for Viacom in the short term, but long term is going to be a rough road if it backfires.
Syndication cuts are pretty obvious when it boils down to TV shows, but that's for another topic if it gets made. The tactic is time compression, which is speeding up shows to fit in the half hour time span of the syndicated version of the show to get more commercial time. Some movies do that, but they go more for cutting stuff for both time and content. This was a big deal a few years ago when sites and a few entertainment shows talked about a video one did on YouTube in 2013 on Seinfeld reruns ten years earlier at the time. He did a test in 2015 to see how much of a difference it was and it was sped up a little more.
It's not just TBS. It's pretty much the case with any network that has shows up until the 90s to early 2000s. Even some of the early SpongeBob SquarePants episodes suffer because of the era it was in. Yeah, original content like The Walking Dead may get millions of viewers, but for anyone wanting reruns of shows, the choice is obvious now these days. Networks are still going to wonder why they keep losing viewership. Netflix, Hulu, and other sites have access to all episodes of a show and barring certain things like Saturday Night Live and South Park, should be uncut and unaltered. You can watch as many times as you want before deals expire on shows.
Movies, on the other hand, is tougher. It's hard to know when a deal can be made on some films, popular or unpopular. Networks envy the most recent ones and try to get them on HBO or Showtime before going to a cable network like FX or AMC. Companies are making deals to stream exclusively on one platform, though, making them adjust pretty well to the modern era of watching things. Unfortunately, not every film will make it to an online site and unless you're not able to find on DVD or Blu-ray, you might be stuck with the cable version.
Could we see a time where there is ten minutes of commercials in one break? I hope not. With losing viewership from a number of networks (some of which cannot be blamed on commercials) and rising costs per household, it could be a reality that will be dreaded, even if you are dedicated to something like a 15-hour South Park marathon. Only time will tell, and it may look no good.