SCOTT SIMON, host:
The whole financial structure of commercial television might be about to change, and not just because Star Jones Reynolds isn't on. This week, the Nielsen Media Research Company announced they will soon begin to measure how many people really watch the commercials. Advertisers may be able to press for lower rates, because even if a billion people watch American Idol, many of them may take bathroom or kitchen breaks during commercials. Or these days just fast-forward to the next contestant.
Advertisers have suspected as much for years. That's why there are many shorter commercials, designed to grab attention before you can get up from the chair, or reach for the remote. Lower ad rates may mean even more so-called reality, or quiz shows, which are cheaper to produce than dramas like Desperate Housewives, CSI Chapel Hill, or Law and Order Shoplifting Squad. It may compel advertisers to sneak the appearance of more products into a show, like Arthur Branch in Law and Order telling Jack McCoy, Hey, Jack, put down that heavy law book and have a Coke Lite, and hasten the flow of advertisers onto the Web and other new venues.
Nielsen will begin measuring commercial viewership in November. Funds for this program have been providing by - you're still with us?
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