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Hulu and AT&T to Show Commercials When Content Is Paused: Report
Both networks plan to increase commercial loads by using ads that fill the screen when viewers take a break. Will viewer outrage convince them to back off?

Well, this isn't going over well. Yesterday, Variety broke the news that Hulu and AT&T plan to run commercials when content is paused. Hulu will debut "pause ads" in 2019, and AT&T will launch new technology next year that will let it do the same. It's unclear if those ads will appear on DirecTV, DirecTV Now, U-verse, or all of the above.

Defending the move, Jeremy Helfand, vice president and head of advertising platforms for Hulu, says, “As binge-viewing happens more and more, it’s natural they are going to want to pause." The ads will run when people pause to get a snack. “It’s a natural break in the storytelling experience.”

That reasoning ignores the fact that viewers often pause a show to view something on screen, something that would no longer be possible. Viewers also pause shows to take phone calls, in which case a commercial playing would be an unwelcome distraction.

AT&T also defended the move: “We know you’re going to capture 100 percent viewability when they pause and unpause,” Variety quotes Matt Van Houten, vice president of product at Xandr Media, AT&T’s advertising division, as saying. “There’s a lot of value in that experience.”

Perhaps the overwhelming negative attention this news has created will convince Hulu and AT&T to rethink their positions.

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