US Television Clutter on the Increase

15 February 2002

TV time devoted to non-programming content such as commercials and promotions – known to the cognoscenti as clutter – is on the up and up according to the annual Television Commercial Monitoring Report from the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers.

Early morning TV is worst hit by the increase, says the report, with an average in 2001 of 18 minutes and 2 seconds of clutter hourly, up from the previous year’s 17 minutes and 44 seconds.

Daytime TV was also beset by the clutter effect, recording an alltime high of 20 minutes and 57 seconds, compared with 20 minutes and 3 seconds. Local news bulletins also vied for the record with 17 minutes and 10 seconds, compared with 17 minutes and 5 seconds a year earlier. Network newscasts and late-night news programs also increased, but avoided setting new records.

It was a different story on primetime TV, however, which recorded a slight fall in clutter. The four largest networks – ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – on average notched 16 minutes and 8 seconds of clutter per hour compared with 16 minutes and 17 seconds in 2000.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff