Promising a “seamless” experience for viewers, Fox Sports says it will air nine six-second ads during its Thanksgiving Day telecast of the NFL matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions.
The mini-spots, which Fox has pushed since the start of the NFL season, with AMC planning single sixes on The Walking Dead, will be “incorporated into natural breaks in the flow of the game,” Fox said. They will appear in a unique double-box format that allows viewers to follow all the action while the six-second ads run. Fox’s cable sibling FS1 tried out the double-box during the baseball playoffs this month.
By Fox’s estimate, the nine six-second ads (a shade less than a minute of airtime, all together) will replace one standard commercial break, which typically runs for 2 minutes 20 seconds. The network, along with the NFL, will evaluate the test to refine the approach moving forward. In an interview with Deadline earlier this month, Fox said it has thus far been able to secure rates for 6-second ads that are equivalent to those for 15-second ads. It wasn’t immediately clear what rates are being paid for the Thanksgiving slots.
Experimentation with the 6-second units, which Fox began last summer, stems from an overall awareness that commercial television is competing in a landscape where SVOD services and ad-skipping technologies are increasingly influential. Many networks are already trying lighter ad loads as another measure aimed at retaining viewers.
Some ad vets wonder if adding the number of commercial messages may end up having the opposite effect than networks intend, actually making it less possible for viewers to stay engaged. But Fox and others say they have data suggesting that ad recall and other metrics are healthy even when the ads are delivered in shorter doses.
“Fox broke the mold as the first broadcast network to air six-second ads, and working alongside our partners at the NFL, and in an effort to help them continue to improve the game viewing experience, we are doing it again by maximizing the efficiency of brand messaging while delivering an even more immersive experience for fans,” said Fox Networks Group ad sales president Joe Marchese.
The game will air on FOX at 12:30pm ET on November 23.