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Quick Thought: I Have Been Conditioned To Expect More Commercials

Star Trek: The Original SeriesI think I have been negatively conditioned by modern television. I have been watching Star Trek: The Original Series on Netflix lately and nearly every episode, I think to myself, “This episode seems to never end.” Not that the episodes are boring or anything, just that they seem long. I then look at the show’s run time and notice that it is 50 minutes. Modern shows only clock in at 42ish minutes.

It is sad that my mind has been conditioned to think that more advertising time in an “hour” long program is normal when only 50 years ago, it would have seemed unconscionable. Even though I don’t actually watch commercials these days, outside Hulu I guess but you can hardly call what I do “watching them”, I still unconsciously expect a certain amount of commercial time.

Or, perhaps I expect a certain number of commercial breaks, moments where there is a complete pause in programming to accommodate commercials, something noticeably lacking from Star Trek. These breaks have also become expected in my television viewing and may add to my perception that Star Trek lags on.


  1. Aaron Bossig
    Aaron Bossig December 29, 2016

    A lot of factors contribute to this, not the least of which being the perpetual greed for advertising revenue. However, our lifestyle and culture now push us to multitasking. Much of our TV watching is done with a smartphone or laptop nearby, or accompanies household chores. With our attention diverted, it is easier to slip in extra commercials, and we tend to not notice when the plot of the show suffers because of it. The rising popularity of direct-to-streaming shows also allow providers to add commercials where ever they want, without regard for broadcast time slots. And finally, the use of the DVR is the ultimate advertiser’s excuse– since you can fast forward through the ads anyway, there’s no need for them to reign in how many ads are placed.

    I’ve found that serious TV watching is best done on DVD or BluRay, with smartphones off. This returns good TV to the nightly “event” it was in years past.

    • Zachary Knight
      Zachary Knight December 29, 2016

      Those are all excellent points. You can see these trends throughout the years. The Next Generation clocks in at 45 minutes which means there is an additional 5 minutes of commercials from one series to the next. Hopefully we don’t reach a point where a 1 hour block show only has 30 minutes of actual show. That might be a breaking point for viewers.

      Thankfully services like Netflix are allowing showrunners to make their shows as long as they need to be. The Marvel shows are a great examples as one episode might be 53 minutes but the next might be 59 etc. However long it takes to tell the story of the episode. They can do this because they don’t have to adhere to an advertising schedule.

    • MechaTama31
      MechaTama31 December 29, 2016

      Yeah, I can’t stand to have phones/music/laptop/whatever going while I’m watching something, and it drives me batty when other people do it around me. Especially if it’s something I recommended they watch. “This is good, damn it! Pay attention!” ­čśë

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