Viewers often complain about 'too many' commercials between their favourite TV programs, but a new study has found that the ads often make telly viewing more interesting.
The research led by Leif D. Nelson from University of California, San Diego, Tom Meyvis, and Jeff Galak both from New York University has shown that although commercial interruptions are universally shunned, they do make a wide variety of shows more enjoyable, including sitcoms, animations, documentaries, and music videos.
"Although consumers have difficulty predicting this, their enjoyment of television shows tends to gradually diminish during the viewing experience," said the authors.
"That is, viewers adapt to the show, making every minute slightly less enjoyable than the previous one," they added.
To reach the conclusion, the researchers conducted six studies where participants watched and evaluated either continuous or disrupted versions of programs.
In the first study, participants watched an episode of the sitcom "Taxi". Although they disliked the commercials, those who watched the show with commercials liked it better than those who watched it without.
Another study found that people enjoyed a short animated clip more when it was interrupted by a commercial than when it played continuously.
The third study also found that participants who watched an interrupted version of a nature documentary not only enjoyed the documentary more, but were also willing to donate more to a nature charity after viewing.
Even non-commercial interruptions had the same positive effect as commercials.
The study appears in Journal of Consumer Research.