Netflix cuts over 6 days of commercials from your life per year, compared to cable TV

We’re spoiled as consumers, but as marketers, direct marketers and advertisers, we’re concerned. The popularity of streaming services such as Netflix is reducing the opportunity for impressions on consumers, thanks to the commercial-free zone.  Many of the news outlets have picked up on the unavoidable math that indicates that killing ads cuts back significantly on brand exposure—apparently over 6 days’ worth annually, according to Business Insider.

The numbers inspire shock and awe:

  • Each year Netflix subscriber saves themselves about 158.5 hours of commercials.
  • Netflix recently passed the 75 million subscribers mark.
  • Subscribers stream 125 million hours of programming per day.
  • Each subscriber is watching about 1 2/3 hours per day.
  • Nielsen data shows that the typical hour of cable TV includes 15 minutes and 38 seconds of commercials.

And all this organic, non-commercial watching is having an effect on watchers, especially millennials and Gen Y, who increasingly expect a customized, authentic viewing experience without interruption or brand pitches. “Consumers are being trained there are places they can go to avoid ads,” says Howard Shimmel of Time Warner. And once you’re accustomed to the no-ads life, you’re especially annoyed by ads that you still are exposed to.

Behold, the Netflix Generation. Wooed by outstanding content, numbed and immune to traditional brand messaging?

Some cable networks are getting creative by reducing the number of ads they show to re-attract the young and the restless. The truth is, Netflix is not solely the blame. Many cable subscribers regularly use DVRs to cut out commercials.

So what impact—if any yet—has the Netflix Effect had on brands’ television commercial planning and expectations?

It begs the question—despite no-ads being critical to Netflix’s DNA—how incredible would their advertising scope and reach be if they were to slip a few paid messages in between episodes of House of Cards or Bloodline?

Would you still watch?


Direct Choice Inc. is a full-service direct marketing agency that has worked with national and regional brands in a wide variety of vertical markets. In addition to this blog, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn


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