I Haven’t  Seen That Commercial

OCTOBER 26, 2018

It has come to my attention that I have essentially been living commercial-free for some time now. As a premium subscriber of Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Spotify and Youtube (a collection of logins from friends and acquaintances), the only time I encounter a commercial is when I listen to the radio or watch someone else’s television (I don’t have cable).

And I’m not alone because I know quite a few people with just one subscription who prefer mindlessly scrolling for something to watch over changing channels or worse, sitting through the commercials. Generally speaking, no one enjoys sitting through commercial breaks during a show they love. That’s why binge-watching is a thing.

Humankind has historically opposed commercials. Ever since the invention of DVR, the prototype for home streaming, we gravitated more and more toward ways that would allow us to skip all the ads and enjoy our shows in peace. And as streaming services expand, and they are (here and here), the opportunity to watch commercial-free content also expands. This all leads me to believe that commercials, one of the most effective methods of advertising, are slowly dying. And the internet is to blame.

No, not just online streaming services. The world wide web as a whole. Nowadays, we are overloaded with content and information just from our cell phones. With commercials, repetition is key and with all the memes, scandals, and “fake news” going on, there is little room to generate buzz without being overshadowed.

It might seem strange now, but if you think about it, commercials are definitely not as impactful to pop culture as they used to be. But what will replace commercials in the future? My guess would be social media based campaigns ran through publicity stunts and other guerrilla tactics.