ABC1 pledges revolutionary ad shift

Disney’s new entertainment channel ABC1 has announced it will dispense with traditional end breaks between programmes in a bid to retain viewers and increase stand-out for advertisers.

The channel, which carries American TV programmes such as Home Improvement and Moonlighting, will carry two advertising breaks in each half-hour show but both commercial slots will be in the main part of the programme.

The practice, which means there is no ad break between the end of one programme and the start of another, is common in other markets including North America and Australia but new to the UK.

John Hardie, managing director of Walt Disney Branded Television for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “ABC1 is designed to be the highest quality environment for advertisers with smart yet accessible programmes and break structures designed to make it the friendliest home for advertising.”

Digital Media Sales is handling the sales for ABC1, which was launched on Freeview in September and Telewest last week and has consistently ranked fifth among commercial channels, behind ITV1, Channel 4, Five and ITV2.

John De Napoli, managing director of DMS, said: “The unique break pattern, and our sales strategy of working with a select number of advertiser partners in the first year, demonstrates ABC1’s commitment to providing advertisers with a clutter-free environment and real stand-out.”

Chris Hayward, head of television at ZenithOptimedia, said dispensing with end breaks was “completely new” for the UK and it would be interesting to see how it went.

“My gut instinct is that more commercials in the body of the programme seem pretty good, but people will want to see evidence of that,” Hayward said.

He doubted that mainstream channels such as ITV would follow unless there was clear evidence that it would not reduce viewer retention or revenue.

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons