NEW YORK: Another US network is reviewing ad loads, as Fox has signalled its ambition to slash advertising time over the next two years.

The notion was first trailed at a private industry event the network hosted last week, the Wall Street Journal reported, where Joe Marchese, Fox Networks Group’s ad sales chief, suggested that ad loads could be cut to just two minutes of advertising per hour by 2020.

The figure was subsequently confirmed by Ed Davis, chief product officer for ad sales at Fox Networks Group in an email.

“The two minutes per hour is a real target for Fox, and also our challenge for the industry,” he wrote.

“Creating a sustainable model for ad-supported storytelling will require us all to move.”

Last week NBCUniversal announced a less ambitious approach, saying it would reduce the number of prime-time commercials by 20% and advertising time by 10%, while at the same time aligning ads and content more intelligently.

The current average ad load is around 13 minutes per hour according to Nielsen figures, so cutting that to two minutes implies a sharp increase in inventory costs.

Marchese, however, envisages the industry shifting from the traditional practice of buying media based on number of views to one based on time spent with content.

It’s an approach that other media have explored. The Financial Times, for example, sells a proportion of digital ads on this basis, following a trial which demonstrated that brand consideration was more than 50% higher for such campaigns.

“We did reduce ad time by 75% in FX Originals on-demand last year, and saw great effectiveness in brand lift,” Davis added. “We are tuning our approach with the new targeting and ad products so we can scale more widely.”

Broadcasters are being forced into such an approach given the changing expectations of viewers as more of them subscribe to ad-free streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Sourced from The Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff