Ad Clutter Reaches All-Time High in Some Dayparts

ORLANDO, FLA. — Commercial clutter on television during 2001 reached an all-time high in three dayparts — early morning, daytime and local news — and clutter levels for the late night and network news dayparts were also up over last year, according to the annual Television Commercial Monitoring Report, a joint study by the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers. Primetime was the only daypart in which non-programming minutes decreased.

Non-programming time in the early morning daypart was up to 18:02 minutes per hour, from 17:44 in 2000; non-programming time was also up to 20:57 minutes in daytime, up from 20:03; up to 17:10 from 17:05 in local news; but down slightly to 16:08 from 16:17 in primetime, the lowest it has been since 1998.

CBS showed the biggest increase in non-programming time in primetime, rising 26 seconds to 16:04. NBC, despite a decrease of 43 seconds, remained the most cluttered network in primetime, while ABC is the least cluttered. All of the Big Four – including Fox — are within one minute of each other for non-program minutes in primetime.

Non-programming time includes network and local commercial time, public service announcements, public service promotions, on-air promotions by the networks, and program credits not run over continuing program action.

In commercial time alone, ABC and NBC experienced declines between 2000 and 2001. The other Big Four networks, along with UPN and WB showed increases. During the measuring month of Nov. 2001 vs. Nov. 2000, Fox delivered the least commercial time of the networks at 8:39 per hour, while UPN was the highest with 10:08 of network commercial minutes.

In paid cable, Fox Family Channel was the most cluttered network, running 17:54 minutes of non-programming per hour, while E! Entertainment Network ran 17:31. Six cable networks during the measuring month of May and eight during the measuring month of November had more clutter in primetime than did the broadcast networks. The Weather Channel with 12:42 in May and CNN with 9:58 in November, were the least cluttered of the cable nets. However, the Weather Channel rose to 17:15 minutes of non-programming during the November measurement period.

VH-1 delivered the most commercials in both May and November.

In syndication, commercial minutes totaled 14:02, from 13:59 in 2000. The most cluttered syndicated programs were Hollywood Squares and Wheel of Fortune .