Netflix Lets Us Avoid 130 Hours of Commercials a Year

By  · Published on August 20th, 2015

According to Exstreamist, who was nice enough to do the math, Netflix saves each average user 130 hours of commercials every year. That’s, wow, a lot of commercials. That’s 15,600 30-second spots you don’t have to watch while you’re watching TV shows and movies on the streaming service.

Extreamist puts it in terms of gaining 65 extra movies. Of course, they’d have to be Netflix movies, so get ready for most of them to be stand-up specials and B-horror flicks from the 1970s. And maybe some of these.

This number – along with the steady rise in average hours spent on Netflix – should make some executives reach for their brown pants. It’s a double whammy with the loss of ad revenue stemming from fans who don’t watch shows when they air.

Naturally, this is a shift that’s been coming for years, but cold mathematics like this show how far on the other side of it we are. People warning about the coming storm don’t realize they’re already drenched at this point.

This comes at the same time as an avalanche of programming – a pile of scripted shows so numerous that you couldn’t catch up with all of them even if you were watching one series per day for a year. Linda Holmes at NPR lays it out in terms stark enough to match with Exstreamist’s:

There’s this huge amount of television, but there are also so many different ways that people watch it now. I counted 25 different ways that you can watch a network or cable show; that doesn’t even include Netflix.”

She goes on to recognize the bright side of the maul: a great amount of quality and diversity of people making shows, starring in shows, potentially getting their start on shows, as well as an impressive number of different stories being told.

The concern is completely with the imbalance, though. Holmes points to FX Chief John Landgraf’s recent “There is simply too much television,” comment – an admission that the sheer amount of TV being produced makes it inherently difficult for great shows to rise up out of the good. The question, then, is what kind of shows and how many will a new structure support. I imagine there isn’t a single fan who isn’t happy to lose 130 hours of commercials, but the ugly truth is that advertising has been the foundation for TV shows since the beginning, and something has to pay for craft services and dolly shots. We can celebrate every Honda ad we don’t have to suffer through, but something will eventually give way. We can’t have both freedom from commercials and a giant selection of stellar shows. At this early stage, it’s unclear how long a juggernaut can stand on thin ice.

An overwhelming amount of content and few ways to make money off it? Sounds like the internet really has infected television.

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