January 25, 2009

Interruptions & Watching Television

Apparently, television commercials serve a useful purpose in the enjoyment of television shows. Future Tense's Jon Gordon interviewed Jeff Galak, a doctoral candidate at NYU's Stern School of Business last week regarding Galak's research suggesting that "commercial interruptions make TV shows more enjoyable."

Apparently it's not the commercials themselves that make us enjoy the shows we are watching. Instead, it's the forced break; we get habituated to what we are doing and thus enjoy it less over time. Since the commercials stop the show, when we return to the show, we enjoy it more because we've had a break. From the abstract:

"...[S]tudies demonstrate that, although people preferred to avoid commercial interruptions, these interruptions actually made programs more enjoyable (study 1), regardless of the quality of the commercial (study 2), even when controlling for the mere presence of the ads (study 3), and regardless of the nature of the interruption (study 4)."

The article will be published August.

For More Information
  • Gordon, Jon. Study: Interruptions make TV shows more enjoyable. Future Tense, Jan. 20, 2009.
  • Nelson, Leif D., Tom Meyvis, and Jeff Galak (2009), “Enhancing the Television Viewing Experience through Commercial Interruptions,” in Press at the Journal of Consumer Research, 36 (August). [Paper; subscription required or check @ your library]

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