I was watching a series of commercials when a football game broke out. Ba dum bump!
The old joke about watching a fight and a hockey game breaking out is quite apt. Today, you are just as likely to see an equal amount of commercials (based on time) as you are to see an actual show. When you include the opening and closing credits of a show, the amount of time that a show is on is about half of the allotted time.
In the beginning of television, there were no commercials. Shows ran for the full half or full hour, without interruption. Then, someone got the bright idea to have the stars themselves sell a product. Cigarettes are a classic example.
The evolution of commercials on television has grown such that it is nearly impossible to not see a commercial, despite ones best efforts. However, commercials on shows are not the real eyesore. I have become quite adept at hitting the mute button and walking away from the tv when commercials comes on and coming back when they are over. No, the real chicanery is during football games.
In no other sport, including auto racing, most specifically NASCAR, are commercials more prevelant. Doubt me? Here is how a recent game went and I reacted:
Tune in at 4:15 to see the kickoff. After the ball is returned for a few yards, the respective offensive and defensive lines prepare to take the field. A commercial break occurs. I start channel surfing to see if anything else is on. I check the clock so I know when to return to the game.Repeat this scenario for the next three plus hours. For a game that is only supposed to last two hours (four 15-minute quarters plus time for a halftime plus time for when the clock is stopped), it's amazing how long the game can be drug out. When you include commercials, it's a wonder any game time is shown.
Commercial break over. Offense runs three plays and has to punt. Ball is punted away and returned for a few yards. Teams prepare to switch roles. A commercial break occurs. I hit mute and walk away from my tv. I go do some other things for a few minutes before returning to my usual position to watch the game.
Commercial break over. Mute is turned off. As we wait for the offense to figure out which play to run (couldn't they have figured that out during the commercial break?), an annoucer remind us of an upcoming show on this particular network. The screen is split-screened so a graphic of the upcoming show is shown on one side while the offense lining up is shown on the other side. I hit the mute button when I see the screen being shifted and look only at the side with the game on it. The play is run. The screen returns to normal. While waiting for the next play, a graphic slides in from the side attempting to advertise a different show on the network. I get up and put my dirty dishes away so I don't know what show they are talking about.
I return to my spot after hearing the announcer's voice go into overdrive. A few more plays are run and ball is punted away. A fair catch is called, the teams leave the field and we go to commercial break. I get up (again), lower the volume so I can just barely hear something from the kitchen, and put the clean dishes away so I can wash the dirty dishes. I wash a few dirty dishes and when I think the commercials are over, check the tv. Nope, a commercial is still running. I continue washing dishes for another minute.
Game is back on. I turn the volume up and watch as several plays are run. The one team seems to be moving the ball down the field pretty well this time. Score! Players jump around, congratulating each other. Announcers start yacking about what a tremendous job the team did moving the ball down the field and scoring. The touchdown is replayed several times, from different angles and with lines and arrows helpfully provided by an announcer, making sure that no one missed what happened. The field goal unit comes onto the field (it took them that long?). The ball is snapped and forcefully kicked through the goalposts. More celebrating by players. Teams prepare for the kickoff. Commercial comes on.
I know what some of you are thinking. If it weren't for the commercials paying for the programming, there wouldn't be anything for me to see. Funny, I seem to recall that every month I have to pay to watch the ten or so channels (out of a possible 50 or so) rather than getting to watch shows for free.
In an effort to try and trick people like me who avoid commercials at almost any cost, networks are now shifting the time of when their shows start. For instance, if a show is supposed to start at 9 PM, the show will actually start at 9:00:30 or even 9:01 so that people who are recording the show will get that 30 second or one minute blast of commercials right at the beginning.
An even funnier arrangement is when one show goes to commercial, almost every other show is also at commercial so you can't avoid them (unless you walk away). Try it sometime. When a show goes to commercial, flip around. Funny how that works, huh?
Commercials are everywhere. Whether on tv, radio, billboards (which are now going digital), web pages, cell phones and now those plastic bins at airports in which you put your shoes and valuables before being subjected to a proctology exam (sorry, that's a subject for another time), we are constantly bombarded by advertisements. However, at what point do commercials become so annoying that they become ineffective?
For example, there is a local car dealer which has a radio ad which is so loud, so annoying, so obnoxious, that if they were the only car dealer within a thousand miles of me, I still wouldn't buy from them. I figure if the commercials are that obnoxious, the people who run the dealership must be the same.
Ads on web pages? I've been adding entries to my host file so fewer and fewer ads are displayed when surfing about. Blocking ads also helps speed up (slightly) your web experience as there is less information to be pulled across the wires.
Here's a note to advertisers: The more ads you keep shoving in our faces, the more we will be turned off. No, it's not stealing if we don't watch commercials on television and thinking that if you shove in just one more commercial during a game will get you that extra 0.00001% increase in revenue is shortsighted and, to be blunt, counter-productive. Why do you think Tivo was invented? It was to block commercials because people are tired of having their shows interrupted.
This is what it comes down to: People will find more and more ways to not see commercials. They are done having their shows interrupted by a commercial for the next un-reality piece of garbage. Contrary to what your web statistics tell you, you're not getting more unique visitors to your site because people are deleting their cookies so you can't track them and try to push more ads on them. The more you try to push stuff down peoples throat, the more people will tune out. Think I'm kidding? See the comments by some folks from this past racing season as well as the statistics compiled by cawsnjaws and the comments that follow thereafter. The above comments are just for NASCAR races. How about baseball?
Here's the real kick in the pants for advertisers: People like me don't care what you're advertising. We already know what we want and your insistence that we need your product only insures that we will never buy what you are advertising.
Sure, there are still the unwashed masses who will believe that Mr. Umbatu Gambumdi from Nigeria has $15 million waiting for them if they can only front the cost of tranferring the delivery money, but the number of people who are turned off by advertising is growing. The amount of money spent on advertising is growing at a time when more and more people are tuning out/avoiding commercials. Does that make any sense? Apparently the term 'diminishing returns' doesn't enter into the advertising vocabulary.
So there is no misunderstanding, I will do everything in my power to avoid every commercial that comes my way. I will switch to another channel, I will hit the mute button and walk away, I will flip past every ad in every magazine I read, I will continue to add entries to my host file to block online ads. Anything and everything that I can do to avoid seeing commercials, I will do. The sooner that advertisers realize they're wasting their money, the sooner we can once again enjoy watching our shows without being pummeled by another ad for some crappy cleaner (yeah, I'm looking at you Billy Mays).