Why I can’t watch Oprah

Or the more accurate but less compelling headline: Why I can’t stand to watch Oprah.

It isn’t because I’m a guy and it’s a girl show. Or because Oprah is unbelievably rich, privileged and insulated from the concerns of ordinary people. Or that she’s disturbingly credulous, even gullible about the claims of her guests — that horrible episode about “The Secret” for example.

No, it’s just that her show has way too many commercials.

I thought it might be my imagination — I have a terribly low tolerance for commercials, most of them being somewhere between misleading and completely dishonest. So I decided to check for myself, using a videotape of an episode and a spreadsheet to add up the total program time and commercial time.

Here’s the result: Program time 41:52, commercial time 18:08.

Just as a point of comparison, the average Spongebob episode is 11 minutes long, and they show four per hour. By that reckoning Spongebob beats Oprah 44 minutes to 41:52. And Oprah breaks for commercials seven times, which adds to the feeling of constant interruption and insures that none of the program segments will last as long as a Spongebob cartoon.

There isn’t any point in arguing why they show so many ads. No mystery is involved. Since the ads are what makes them money, they will show as many as they can get away with.

Of course, the flip side of that is that, since watching ads is the price I pay for watching commercial TV, I will watch as few ads as I can get away with. I will therefore be watching something besides Oprah.

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