Mad for Ads

I’m old enough to remember that when cable first appeared on the television scene, one of its biggest enticements was little to no advertising with the content compared to broadcast.

Slowly but surely, over the decades each cable channel gathered more and more advertising until watching a two-hour movie could stretch to nearly four hours with ads, and I could do a load of laundry and wash the dishes during the typical interminable ad break.

No advertising was also an initial enticement for streaming services, and first-mover Netflix is still sticking to its guns on that feature, as is the new upstart Apple TV+. But competitors seem to be jumping into the advertising market with both feet, with Disney+ recently announcing it would provide an ad-supported option for budget-minded customers beginning in late 2022.

I recently watched an original on the ad-supported option of one of these services and was dismayed to see how many ad breaks there were. It seemed every time the drama crescendoed another ad broke the tension.

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I am seeing signs that the ad-supported streaming tier is going to turn into coach-class, as opposed to first-class. Those first-class streamers who can pay will see shows uninterrupted while those that can’t will get what they used to get with cable and what made them leave cable in the first place — more and longer ad breaks.

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