We Like Being Interrupted

I thought I had a pretty good idea of how commercials work, but an article in the NY Times surprised me. It seems that commercials can actually improve the way a show plays. People who watched an episode of “Taxi” with commercials liked it better than those who watched without interruption. If you like something, and it’s interrupted, you tend to like it more. That is, except when the show is demanding of your attention. So commercials make an escapist show that doesn’t require much attention play better. Who’d a thunk it?

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3 Comments on “We Like Being Interrupted”


  1. Interesting theory… it appears the ad guys had it right all along. I guess we’ve been programed to expect the key scene points change after 5 to 10 minutes, too, in preparations for the next act, so that we can take that 2 minute break. We know there will be resolution in 20 minutes. I remember watching a TV show in the 1970s that had only credits after that last 2 minute commercial and it wasn’t as “rewarding” to watch. Later they began putting a short :30 second close after the last break, and I’d sit around waiting for just that.

  2. Steve Putnicki Says:

    Chicken or egg…do screen/teleplay writers respond to sponsors and networks, or do writers construct the script for best effect? We, as watchers, just seem to follow along…

  3. James Says:

    Not buying it. I won’t be surprised if the article was sponsored by ad agencies.


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