Can Turner continue reducing ad loads and still make money?

Turner Networks has been experimenting with ad loads on both its liner and online video products for a couple of years, increasing the number of ads on its online video products and, more recently, reducing its ad loads on linear programming.

The results on the linear side have been strong, – increasing both ratings and actual commercial consumption – said Turner Networks entertainment President Kevin Reilly.

Reilly, speaking at the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press tour in Los Angeles, said Animal Kingdom, the first show to run fewer commercials, rolled out this summer and has seen “very, very good results.”

The show has posted improved ratings virtually every week and has been renewed for a second season.

The ad load, he said, “is part of the reason for the week-to week-growth.”

Advertisers have to pay a premium for the opportunity to have more focused exposure, Reilly said, something they so far have been eager to do.

TNT is so far the only Turner network offering reduced ad loads, although TruTV will do so in the fall for its original programming.

And, he said, Turner can’t go it alone.

“It’s being emulated by some other competitors on a one-off basis,” Reilly said. “If we get the results that we’re beginning to see, we’ll look at doing it on TBS. (But) if we’re the only two networks doing it, it’s not going to change the industry and we’ll have to go back, but the data points in the right direction.”

Viewers have flocked to online video because, among other things, content on SVOD services generally is free of advertising. On AVOD sites, meanwhile, programmatic advertising often has meant delivering more relevant ads to consumers, which also allows for lighter ad loads because of increased CPMs.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn