CBS will not let the NFL’s desire to shorten games decrease their ad revenue, chairman and CEO Les Moonves told NBC on Thursday.
Here’s what Moonves said about the NFL’s plan to limit the number of commercial breaks next season in hopes of tightening games and boosting rating:
“We are not going to reduce ads. They’re just going to reconfigure in a different way. So, perhaps instead of there being five breaks, there are four breaks that are slightly longer,” Moonves said on “Squawk on the Street.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced in March the league would cut down on ads, after an alarming drop in ratings last season. Amid the ratings crisis emerged a chorus of calls to shorten NFL games, coming from fans, owners and… Les Moonves himself.
One specific frustration for NFL viewers has been the rash of commercials that come with every score. Even Goodell has said he hates when a team scores, the game goes to commercial, the team kicks off and then the game goes to another commercial—and it sounds like the NFL hopes to eliminate that convention altogether.
But naturally, Moonves is not just going to let that ad revenue walk away, especially not given how tough a time network are having selling ads for next fall’s games at the prices they’re used to asking for. If he, or the NFL’s other TV partners, were actually serious about shortening games, he’d be more willing to sacrifice a little ad time for the cause, but his ultimate goal is generating revenue, and killing commercials is no way to do that.
Of course, the NFL’s plan to increase ratings by reducing commercials seems to be undermined a bit if that commercial time is just being reallocated. Whatever the reason that viewers fled the NFL last fall, it seems unlikely they’ll flock back just because there are a couple fewer breaks next fall—especially if they’re still sitting through as many ads as before.
If the NFL really wants to substantially shorten games, they’re probably going to have to look somewhere other than commercial breaks to do it.