Fox Plans to Reduce Ad Load to 2 Minutes Per Hour by 2020

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Fox is the latest media giant to tackle commercial clutter.

Fox Networks Group plans to drastically scale back its ad load to two minutes an hour by 2020, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Fox Networks Group ad sales chief Joe Marchese told a private industry gathering in Los Angeles of planned ad load reductions, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which is part of the Fox group. "The two minutes per hour is a real target for Fox, and also our challenge for the industry,” Ed Davis, chief product officer for ad sales at Fox Networks Group, said in an email sent to the Journal.

"Creating a sustainable model for ad-supported storytelling will require us all to move," Davis added. There are no details on whether that long-term goal will apply to all Fox programming, or certain genres like episodic content, and whether sponsored or product integration will help retain revenues after airing fewer traditional 30-second commercials.

But, according to sources, Fox is expected to charge more for the reduced inventory it offers advertisers going forward. And ads will be sold based on the time viewers spend with content, rather than the number of views. 

Fox last year averaged around 13 minutes of ad time per-hour on the broadcast platform, according to Nielsen data, and around 16 minutes of ad load per-hour on cable. 

Fox is the latest media giant to talk about messing with the traditional TV ad model, which can add up to as much as 18 minutes of commercial airtime per hour. Turner Networks' TNT has reduced ad loads for some of its original programming.

NBCUniversal, which started by cutting the ad load for NBC's Saturday Night Live, late last month said it will cut its number of ads by 20 percent and reduce overall ad time by 10 percent in primetime in fall 2018 across its broadcast and cable networks.

March 8, 9:30 a.m. Updated with information on TNT's reduced ad loads for select programming.