UFC on Versus 2 Gets Split-Screen Commercials

July 29, 2010

John Ourand of the Sports Business Daily is reporting that Versus will experiment with the use of split-screen commercial breaks in its broadcast of UFC on Versus 2 this Sunday.

Versus will run “five or six” of its commercial breaks in a split-screen format next to its live coverage of Sunday’s UFC2 on Versus at 9:00pm ET. Versus during these ad breaks will leave its content in a box on the upper left-hand side of the screen. The ad will run in a bigger box on the right and center of the screen, similar to how Versus handles commercial breaks during its Izod IndyCar Series telecasts.

Payout Perspective:

This does not mean that commercials will now run during the fights. Versus will still only air commercials throughout the breaks in action such as between rounds or between fights.

I like the idea, because it gives the viewer an opportunity to continue watching the fighters as they go to their corners and helps maintain the relatively undisrupted feel of a PPV event.

However, I question how much value the split-screen will add to the viewing experience without any sound. The commercials will undoubtedly command control of the audio output for the duration of the break, which means the fans won’t be able to hear what’s happening in the corners or listen to Mike and Joe give their opinions.

I can’t image that advertisers are paying anywhere near the same amount for a split-screen ad as they are for full-screen (a Versus issue). This leads me to believe that Versus is likely to incorporate some in-program advertisements or presentation features for those taking part in the split screen commercials as a way to add value to their media buy.

11 Responses to “UFC on Versus 2 Gets Split-Screen Commercials”

  1. Machiel Van on July 29th, 2010 8:17 AM

    This makes sense from a business perspective, but as a consumer I will hate it. I can’t believe the audio will be interrupted, I hope this doesn’t happen on Spike TV in the future. This is a disturbing direction for TV advertising to move.

  2. Machiel Van on July 29th, 2010 8:18 AM

    I think I’ll make a cardboard cut-out to cover the ads while I watch the silent fighter corner segments. I don’t even want to support this on a subliminal level.

  3. Adam Swift on July 29th, 2010 9:10 AM

    ABC/ESPN have used this trick during auto racing coverage.

  4. Kelsey Philpott on July 29th, 2010 9:14 AM

    Versus uses it with the IZOD Indy Car Series, too.

  5. Matt C. on July 29th, 2010 9:49 AM

    Just from my perspective I think this works. Simply because I know when I’m watching NASCAR or Indy Car when they do this I’m less likely to get up and do something else when a commercial comes on because I can still watch the race. So they aren’t losing me to wandering off when a commercial comes on.

    Can I hear the action during those commercials… no.. but a picture is worth a thousand words. So still being able to see what is happening in the corners during commercials breaks will still tell me something about how the fight is going.

    I’m all for this if it helps the networks and advertisers get more out of it. I appreciate them supporting MMA.

  6. Mike P. on July 29th, 2010 10:18 AM

    I wonder if this means they’ll show more of the walkouts on Versus, instead of just the main event?

  7. Diego on July 29th, 2010 10:54 AM

    I agree with Matt C. The alternative is not to not have commercials, it’s to cut away to commercials. This is better, even if it’s not great. I can’t watch TUF live anymore. I have to DVR the shows so I can fast forward the commercials. I think with this I may watch it live. I’m willing to give it a chance to see how it turns out.

  8. Machiel Van on July 29th, 2010 12:15 PM

    I’m confused. Does this mean there will be fewer traditional commercial breaks? If that is the case I don’t mind. I read this and was under the impression that this would be IN ADDITION to the standard number of traditional commercial breaks. I don’t want EXTRA commercials to impede on my viewing experience, but if it evens out then I’ll be much less annoyed. Anyone know for sure? (I realize it says “5 or 6 of its commercial breaks,” but this is vague and doesn’t answer my question)

  9. BrainSmasher on July 29th, 2010 7:05 PM

    This is great and im not so sure the value isnt there for advertisers. For fight fans you get to see how bad cuts are, how someone is recovering, etc. For advertisers there is reason for people to not run to the fridge to get a cold one during your ad. You may not get undivided attention it will be hard for people not to see what is going on in the Ad. Also this makes Advertisers step up and create clever ads to get attention. I like some commercials. Like Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world”, and Geico’s “Would a drill Sargent make a bad therapist?”. If you are cleaver you can still atention away from a guy sitting on a stool with no sound. Even better that less people leave the TV.

  10. bill hardiek on July 31st, 2010 5:06 PM

    I am not a big fan of advertisements, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves. I feel as though it takes away from the broadcast. The momentum of the action is lost, since everyone has ADHD, it’s impossible too recapture their attention. This is a good way to have your cake and eat it too.

  11. Diego on August 2nd, 2010 2:12 PM

    Post fight opinion: the split screen didn’t glue me to my seat. I DVRd part of the show and wound up fast forwarding during the split screen ads, and for the parts I watched live I was going to the bathroom or running to the fridge during the split screen. It wasn’t any different for me than if they had just gone to commercial instead.

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