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The Response to Commercials: The Ultimate Time Suck

Adam Bullock • July 1, 2014 • 3 minutes to read

In an earlier blog post, we set out to try to put the amount of time we spend watching commercials on Hulu Plus into context.

Using an average San Francisco salary to calculate time spent watching commercials, Kerry found that she had wasted $4,612.50 of lost time due to commercials watching her favorite shows.


An eye-opening number.

We took Kerry's calculations, made them look spiffy via an easy-to-read infographic and spread the news to the world!

What was the response?

We've decided to compile some comments on our infographic from around the 'net in this follow-up blog post.

Right off the bat, there was some disagreements surrounding our "time is money" argument.

Your time is less valuable when you're sitting on the couch watching TV than when you're sitting at your desk working. ~jr49

Using wage as a valuation of the money value of time is a pretty standard economic tool. It's also how transportation planners calculate the economic value of people spending less time sitting in traffic, for example. ~ECgopher

Thanks for having our back, ECgopher. We would agree and go one further: nowadays, there is nothing as valuable as time.

From there, there was some discussion about multi-tasking.

The biggest shortcoming of this back of the envelope math is that it assumes you're actually there sitting through the commercial as opposed to running to the bathroom, grabbing a snack, etc. ~ECgopher

Sitting in traffic on the way to work to earn money isn't the same as watching commercials before a show you watch for enjoyment.

The traffic is stopping you getting to work and earning. It stops you doing other things while you're doing it. It costs you money to have your engine running. Commercials do none of the above, they're an inconvenience, an annoyance. ~WG47

WG47 made another comment that affirmed one of our goals of this piece of content: that Hulu may benefit from offering another option.

Unless you took time off work to watch TV, your time isn't worth that much. These are things you do in your free time. You're not making the choice between working and watching Hulu.

Edit: it is a rather compelling argument for subscribing to ad-free services like Netflix and watching shows there where available though. ~WG47

Meanwhile, topcat5 actually had enough of the commercials.

I didn't waste any time. I canceled my Hulu membership almost 2 years ago because of the commercials. It wasn't worth it. ~topcat5

What did we learn?

We appreciate the feedback and were thrilled to see that this particular infographic accomplished what we set out: to spark a discussion. In the end, we truly believe Hulu could benefit from:

  • A new plan: How about offering a new plan with zero commercials? Absolutely zero Geico talking paintings, commercials about SeaWorld or PayPal commercials. Would consumers pay double the price for no commercials?
  • Varied commercials: Too often, we see the same commercials every break. Great commercials make an impression the first time. Rarely does a commercial capture the magic of the "Hump-daaaaaay!" type of commercial (although, I think the camel is over and done with). How about changing up the commercials once in awhile, Hulu?

Thanks to everyone who shared their opinion and commented about our infographic. If you have any ideas for Hulu, leave a comment below!

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