Commercials, Commercials, Commercials

Public TV in France, in a very un-CBC-like move, is going to eliminate all commercials by 2011 (so they won’t have anything interrupting those all-important Silver Spoons reruns). The idea that any channels in the world are actually going to show fewer commercials is a confusing and disorienting thing. But there are other signs, and not just from France, that we may finally have reached the point of commercial over-saturation and that the number of commercials may finally have to contract, rather than expand. Another sign is that Fox’s experiment with fewer commercials — and therefore, old-school running times — on Fringe may actually be working, by increasing the likelihood that viewers will actually watch the damn commercials:

About 13% of ads during Fringe are being skipped, per ratings that include DVR playback, while 16% to 20% of ads in other leading hour-long Fox shows are being skipped, according to Magna Global (via MediaPost).

Fox’s initiative, dubbed Remote Free TV, includes just 10 minutes of national ads per hour, compared to 16 minutes of other hour-long shows. The second show in the initiative, Dollhouse, premieres Feb. 13.

And while I’m on the topic of commercials, this is a quote from a December 1955 Associated Press article, about the success of The Mickey Mouse Club (and therefore the newfound popularity of washed-up cartoon star Mickey). The writer talks about the good stuff, but then comes the bad part: the shocking number of commercials. Which, of course, is a smaller number of commercials than we routinely accept on prime-time television today.

But the commercials! They’re enough to drive you nuts. Not only are there three in every 15 minutes. The station also sneaks in three more every 15 minutes at the station break.

The Disney people are just as upset as the public. Walt apparently didn’t foresee the excesses of the network; he vows that next year he’ll have some control over such matters.

Finally, more on The Snuggie and its amazing global pop-cultural reach. Most amazing of all: four million people have ordered the thing.