Tim Walker’s Theory VII

Watching television at home last Saturday night – because I am that lame – through empirical channels I was able to gain certainty on a theory that I have pushing now for some time.

Yes, I realise this page is headed ‘Theory’ not ‘Fact’ but please, bear with.

My theory, as I’m sure is shared by millions of New Zealand’s viewing public, was that advertisement breaks are becoming longer…

The fact is, they’re not. Today’s ad breaks run for approximately three minutes, just as they did ten years ago.

…Given that the movie I was watching, Zombieland, I had seen on two prior occasions thus wasn’t expecting to see anything new, I felt able to take the time to measure the advertisement to movie ratio.

I understand that in this current world of digital this and computerised that, using an analogue, sweep-movement clock on the wall to achieve this might be perceived as somewhat of an archaic strategy but that’s how I roll; the fact that this clock sweeps rather than ticks is quite enough technology stimulation for me, thank you very much.

In the old days a show would run for around seven minutes, ads would come on for three; therefore in a half hour show a viewer could expect to see three advertisement segments. For half hour shows that is still more or less the standard. For movies though, it’s a little different.

Movies used to follow that same plan but now, those television broadcasting companies appear to be trying to outsmart that destitute sector of the nation’s population who still watch shows as and when they reach the respective TV sets. (Admittedly it does feel a little odd to be referring to my 55 inch LCD as a ‘TV set’ but hey, I’m old school.)

Now for example, in a two hour free-to-air, run-time unadulterated but still heavily censored movie, the first twenty minutes to half hour will be uninterrupted. I can only imagine this technique is to draw in those impoverished viewers for what is set to be a veritable advertising bonanza. As previously stated ad blocks are still three minutes long; it’s the frequency with which they appear that is astonishing.

Zombieland, which was a good watch the first time around with its Emma Stones and its Woody Harrelsons and Jesse Eisenbergs, this time I observed ran for that initial half hour uninterrupted. No complaints there. Three minutes of ads ensued before four minutes of insatiable zombies. It was exciting stuff. Another three minutes of ads flicked by before five minutes of increasingly voracious zombies. Marvellous. Three minutes of ads; five minutes of show. Three minutes of ads; four minutes of show. Three minutes of ads; four minutes of show. Three minutes of ads; three minutes of show.

That last one pissed me off to some kind of unprecedented extent where even Eisenberg’s comical brilliance, Harrelson’s dour humour and Stone’s sultry manner couldn’t save it for me.

If I were any kind of man I would’ve been straight on the phone to talkback venting my frustrations to that large percentage of retirees who leave a radio running all night on their nightstand; alas as a 32-year-old still-budding cantankerous character, my only retaliation was to go to bed.

All this advertising makes me wonder though, what the hell are those idiot TV companies doing with all that extra revenue? Advertisers pay handsomely to encroach on our viewing time and exhibit their wares, yet almost all the movies showing on TV1, 2, 3 and Four are being rescreened for the umpteenth time as though they can’t afford any newer releases…

I’ve seen The Bourne Identity four times; I have seen The Bourne Supremacy only three times, but that’s on again this weekend.

…All this bloody advertising and they can’t afford it..? Really? I understand that I’m not likely to see a movie on my TV screen until at least two years after it hits the big screens but shit, when TV2 screens a 2013 release in 2015 then the next year that same movie is adopted by TV3 along with the tag ‘Premiere’ to confuse all the forgetful Freddies out there into thinking they’re seeing something new when all they’re really doing is seeing a three-year-old rerun hand-me-down from another channel, well, gosh, it is very frustrating indeed.

Honestly, with all this extra advertising, is it that new movies are costing the television companies so much more or, and this is my theory – so thank you to those of you who hung in for the duration – is it that broadcasting CEOs are simply becoming progressively wealthy?



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Ria Rahn

Photography by Will Thea-Ceo







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