HBO, with its lack of commercial breaks, has redefined the way that television can work with sponsors and advertising. Through subscription fees and single-sponsor shows with product placement rather than traditional advertising, HBO creates a unique viewing experience for its audience.
HBO isn’t necessarily a departure from traditional methods, but rather an escape. AMC, through one of its most popular shows, Mad Men, have changed the way viewers receive commercial breaks instead of abolishing them completely. Though Mad Men involves storylines of romance, family life, and personal drama, it is first and foremost a show about advertising and those who control it. Seeing both Don Draper’s persuasive ad pitches and the behind-the-scenes reasoning that form the pitch ideas, Mad Men gives audiences a view into the process behind commercial advertising. Viewers are privileged in knowing how their emotions become manipulated through the process, and through that privilege they feel a superior understanding of advertising.
So, when Mad Men breaks for commercial, the audience now understands the logic behind the car commercials and make-up ads that play. They retain the knowledge acquired during the program and apply it outside the diegetic world of 1950s Manhattan. AMC may still gain revenue because of these traditional commercial breaks, but the experience for the audience is different because of the specific show aired.