Advertising space is going to pull a vanishing act on truTV next fall, when the network plans to reduce its ad load by as much as 47 percent.
Beginning in late 2016, the Turner cable network will significantly reduce its original programming advertising, going from 18 to 19 minutes of nonprogramming time each hour—including national ads, local ads and promos—to just 10 to 11 minutes an hour. The network says it will have the lowest average commercial and promo time in all of television.
Donna Speciale, president of Turner Broadcast ad sales, said in a statement the move is "a game-changer that will shake up how we as an industry approach video ad sales. It is one step in Turner's on-going commitment to create premium environments for our viewers and drive business results for our partners."
The network is giving its creators a year to develop expanded episodes, which will increase from 22 minutes to about 25 minutes. That time frame will also allow Speciale and her sales team to make the reduced ad space a key element of their 2016-17 upfront negotiations. The network will raise ad rates to reflect what it refers to as a "premium environment," but the increase won't match the 42 percent to 47 percent reduction in inventory.
TruTV will roll out the ad space reductions for its 45 hours of new programming in the fourth quarter of 2016 and plans to add additional hours in other dayparts in 2017.
The changes come as the network touts the results of last fall's brand refresh, built around the slogan "Way More Fun," and its signature show Impractical Jokers. Its new "reality comedy" series in the past year include Billy Eichner's Billy on the Street, which previously aired on Fuse, and The Carbonaro Effect. TruTV says its 18-49 audience has increased 45 percent since last November, while adults ages 18 to 34 are up 55 percent. Its median age has dropped to 33, down from 40 last September. The network has also brought on 50 new advertisers in the past year, with strong growth in the automotive and retail categories.
"The response from our clients and partners to the evolution of truTV has been outstanding, and we feel strongly this bold next step is necessary and will propel the network forward," said Joe Hogan, evp, Turner emerging consumer ad sales, in a statement. "By creating a new and enhanced viewer experience, we also provide a more premium environment with greater impact for our advertisers, and the result is that we will reach the next level of delivering for our truTV fans and clients."