There’s no doubting the influence of social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube. If you’ve used those platforms, then you’re aware of shorter commercials. TV has yet to embrace them until now. Viewers to the NFL on Fox will see six-second ads starting in Week 1.

Fox will offer the shorter ads along with their regular 15 and 30 second commercials. It offered them as a test on the Teen Choice Awards earlier this month. TV networks have actually experimented with shorter ads in the past, but they never caught on. Now Fox hopes to make it a standard in the industry.

Fox Sports President Eric Shanks told the New York Times that the six-second commercials will stand out in a rather crowded 15 and 30 second advertisement field:

“When the six-second ads are placed in unique positions, it has the potential to gain even more attention than a traditional unit.”

In addition to the NFL, Fox is selling six second ads for the World Series and other events. And it’s hoping to work them in organically during breaks that have the traditional 15 and 30 second commercials. Shanks said viewers could also see them during pauses in the action:

“So, for example, if a pitching coach comes to the mound just to have a conversation and you know that conversation is going to last 30 seconds, is a six-second unit in there going to add to the experience and then be able to decrease the amount of ad inventory somewhere else?”

The hope is to have viewers stay with the game and not change the channel. The use of the six-second ads during the Teen Choice Awards gave viewers shorter breaks and thus improving the chances of them staying with the show.

That is what Fox is hoping that viewers will do for the NFL. YouTube has used the six second ad format since last year and Facebook has used it as well. And while advertisers have embraced six seconds online, they have yet to do so for television.

So viewers will have to get used to seeing the shorter commercials on the NFL on Fox this season. It will be interesting to see how Fox fits them in.

[New York Times]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.