Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

It's been an accepted practice for many years, but the time has come for broadcast companies and their advertisers to change the "tricks" they play on us TV viewers.

Because they are losing eyeballs and therefore potentially lucrative sales.

I am talking about how most channels increase the volume as soon as the show goes on commercial break. And the increase isn't just a few decibels, it's deafening in many cases.

Yes, the original, decades old premise was interesting, although still suspect: if viewers can't see my commercial while they go on a break or to the kitchen, then at least make it so they can hear it when they're away.

Makes sense to a degree. But in the past few months I have noticed that the volume has been raised to such a level that the following has happened with me:

1) As soon as I hear the volume go up, I change the channel - immediately - don't even give the advertiser a chance to do its thing

2) I press mute and turn my attention to something completely different

3) I press Pause and then fast forward a few minutes later to the point when my show comes back on

But here's the real rub: my anger, surprise, disappointment, call it what you will, is only partially directed at the broadcaster - ABC, NBC, CBS, USA, Comedy, Family, TNT, all of them - and is primarily focused on the advertiser.

Right or wrong, the audio and video connection point directly at the culprit, and that culprit is Huggies. And Wal-Mart. And Coke. And Honda. And Bud. The list goes on.

The point is, this practice is offensive and is doing the opposite of what advertisers had originally intended: instead of getting viewers to stay tuned, we are bugging out faster than ever. And if they want their broadcast dollars to work harder, they need to listen up. 

Recommendation: turn the volume down....and slightly lower than the TV show's volume. Think about it: who commands the most respect in a room filled with talkers: the person who is loudest or the person who speaks softly and is not trying too hard for attention.