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Telenet to make adverts unskippable

Liberty Global-backed Belgian service provider Telenet is to prevent subscribers from skipping adverts on recorded and catch-up shows in a move it says is designed to support local broadcasters.

In response to what it described as requests from Belgian broadcasters, Telenet is to force viewers to sit through one minute of unskippable adverts before any recordings of content from DPG Media’s VTM and SBS’s Play channels from September.

At the same time, the operator is to prevent users of its catch-up TV service, Terugkijk TV, from fast-forwarding through ad breaks during programmes. Viewers will still be able to fast-forward through programme content.

When the switch takes place, subscribers will automatically receive seven days of Terugkijk TV free of charge, and Telenet is also promising new functionality to its service, including a Channel Zone in the TV library, in which viewers will be able to see an overview of recent and popular programmes from their preferred channels.

DPG Media and SBS will be the first to introduce the revised advertising models for their VTM, VTM 2, VTM 3, VTM 4, VTM Gold, Play4, Play5, Play6, and Play7 channels. Één, Canvas and other broadcasters will follow at a later date.

Users of the latest Telenet TV box will be the first to experience unskippable ads , with other viewers following next year. The update will also be extended to second-screen viewing through Chromecast or the Telenet TV app.

Telenet says that other operators in the country are supportive of these changes and are “holding constructive talks” with broadcasters about making similar moves.

The company said that its move is designed to help broadcasters who are struggling as a result of changes in viewing habits that are forcing them to run adverts for longer runs in order to reach the requisite number of viewers promised to clients, reducing the amount of inventory they can sell.

It said that alternative such as advertising during paused live TV breaks and addressable advertising were not sufficient to offset the decline in traditional ad viewing.

“We’ve seen major changes in television in the past ten years due to the arrival of international competitors and online platforms. New dynamics have emerged in viewing behaviour, but also in the way people tolerate advertising around programmes. At the same time, the importance of partnerships to hold our own against international competitors and to allow local content and productions to flourish is clearer than ever,” said Telenet CEO John Porter.

“The sector has been discussing these issues for several years, and to us, viewer comfort has always been at the heart of these conversations.  We believe that we have found the right balance with this new advertising model, and that everyone stands to benefit as a result. The new model is giving the sector the breathing space it needs to keep being able to offer the best local programmes and series to our viewers. At the same time, we continue to be committed to viewer comfort, and we’re demonstrating that by making Terugkijk TV available free of charge to all our customers, among other things.”

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