Turner Broadcasting wants you to sit through longer TV commercials—but there’s an upside

Reinventing the commercial break.
Reinventing the commercial break.
Image: Getty Images/John Moore
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Time Warner is trying to reinvent the commercial breaks you love to hate. The media conglomerate betting that consumers would prefer to watch longer commercials instead of shorter, more frequent ads.

Rather than sprinkling five to 10 30-second commercials throughout a program, Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting division will begin airing breaks featuring ads that are two to three minutes long, Ad Age reported.

“This is less interruptive for consumers and more powerful for brands,” Dan Riess, head of content partnerships at Turner, told the trade publication.

The broadcaster has reportedly experimented with the format, referred to as branded content in the media and marketing industries, on CNN. Recently, the news network partnered with automaker Subaru to create two- to- three-minute long vignettes that aired during a program called “CNN Heroes.” The sponsored segments, which were similar in style and tone to the content on the show, replaced the program’s usual commercial breaks.

Turner is expanding the ad format, called Native Plus, across its portfolio of networks, which includes CNN, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and others. The ad unit, announced in a press release Monday (Jan. 4), is being introduced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show and the company has not said when the new ads will show up in its programming. Turner did not immediately respond to Quartz’s request for comment.

The cable programmer plans to produce the longer-form ads for advertisers, but advertisers can also run their existing branded content. 

Turner’s commercial overhaul comes as media networks are scrambling to retain viewers and advertisers, with streaming video drawing eyes away from traditional TV.

To win back cord cutters, Turner is also slashing the commercial time nearly in half during original prime-time programming on one of its cable networks, truTV.