Great Moments In Advertising: The Commercial Break

Derrick DayeMarch 16, 20081 min

In the 1950’s, unhappy with the ethical compromise of the single-sponsor show, NBC executive Sylvester Weaver (pictured with his daughter and wife) came up with the idea of selling not whole shows to advertisers, but separate, small blocks of broadcast time.

Several different advertisers could buy time within one show, and therefore the content of the show would move out of the control of a single advertiser – rather like a print magazine. This became known as the magazine concept, or participation advertising, as it allowed a whole variety of advertisers to access the audience of a single TV show. Thus the ‘commercial break’ as we know it was born.

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