Turner programming chief Reilly said reduced ad load has improved ratings

TNT has reduced the ad load by 50 percent in series includes 'Animal Kingdom.' (Credit: Turner)

Turner Networks entertainment chief Kevin Reilly said an experiment that drastically reduces the amount of commercial time in shows has resulted in significantly increased viewership.

"We're finding good results with that. Not only is commercial viewing higher, we're seeing a nice ratings lift," Reilly said over the weekend, speaking at the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press tour in Los Angeles.

At its upfront presentation over the spring, Turner unveiled plans to reduce ad loads by 50 percent in new series Good Behavior and Animal Kingdom, while adding 10 minutes of additional series programming. Reilly didn't offer up metrics to say how much additional viewership these shows are receiving thanks to the reduced commercial time.

The announcement was followed by 21st Century Fox's disclosure that it will cut ad loads on National Geographic programming by as much as 50 percent, as well. 

"By reducing ad loads across National Geographic and on other shows in our portfolio, combined with our innovative ad technology and strategy, we are creating a TV experience that amplifies brands and commands maximum attention from viewers," said Toby Byrne, president, advertising sales, Fox Networks Group, in a statement released in May.

"It's being emulated by some other competitors on a one-off basis," Reilly said. "If we get the results that we're beginning to see, we'll look at doing it on TBS. (But) if we're the only two networks doing it, it's not going to change the industry and we'll have to go back, but the data points in the right direction."

Speaking to Deadline Hollywood, Reilly insisted Turner is "not losing money" by running fewer ads.

"If nobody else does it, but we continue to write business and get enough advertisers who continue to engage, we can sustain that," he said.

With consumers flocking to commercial-free platforms like Netflix, programmers are under pressure to decrease ad loads in linear programming. 

For more:
- read this Variety story
- read this Deadline Hollywood story

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