TV audiences may be about to see an increase in the number of ads being shown on mainstream channels, in a move spearheaded by ITV and Channel 4.

The government is said to be in consultation with the broadcasters to discuss the possibility of extending the current cap of seven minutes of advertising per hour, increasing to a maximum of between 8-12 minutes during peak hours.

The decision reportedly comes as a result of falling advertising revenues among UK commercial broadcasters and amid increasing pressure from subscription (SVOD) services.

Whilst it is easy to understand why C4, ITV and other broadcasters are keen to take action to address falling revenue, their latest attempt has missed the mark slightly, offering a short-term solution to a longer-term issue.

By extending the current ad-break minutage, broadcasters risk ruining the immersive viewing experience for audiences of linear TV. According to Ofcom’s Media Nations report, released this month, 51% of Brits are already unhappy with the current level of ads shown.

C4 previously faced criticism in 2017 when Prue Leith, the newly-signed presenter of the Great British Bake Off, advised viewers to fast-forward through the show’s ad breaks, which saw the channel having to defend the amount of advertising within the programme.

The viewing experience for audiences remains paramount. In particular when facing competition from

SVOD services, mainstream broadcasters should continue to focus on quality content to engage viewers, which in turn ensures the best environment for brands to reach audiences effectively.

With viewing habits changing, some audiences are becoming less likely to routinely watch linear TV for extended periods of time, opting instead to tune in only for specific shows, or shifting their viewing habits towards online video.

This new way of watching means viewers are fitting TV consumption around their lives, as opposed to the other way around. Extending ad breaks may only discourage these viewers from watching linear TV – which could have a longer-term effect on the market.

While TV remains the stand out channel for reach, brand safety and ROI, there is no denying that viewing habits are changing, meaning that VOD’s role in the media landscape is becoming more prevalent than ever.

BVOD has gone from strength to strength in recent years, allowing access to the increasingly illusive goldmine of light TV viewers and younger audiences. Meanwhile, continued development in technology allows for greater targeting and more accurate access to specific audiences for brands.

The onus is on broadcasters to further develop the offering, allowing for agencies and brands alike to integrate BVOD alongside linear TV more effectively.

Broadcasters should focus on incorporating BVOD into a wider holistic video offering, rather than squeezing more ad revenue from the current model.