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Published on December 4th, 2018 | by Brad Gibson


Report: Hulu, AT&T to test ‘pause ads’ in streaming content next year

Hulu and AT&Ts DirecTV Now service are considering forcing upon viewers advertisements when they pause live or pre-recorded programming on their streaming services, according to a published report Wednesday by Variety.

The concept is that in addition or instead of including commercials at different breaks in programming, consumers would watch advertisements when programming is paused. All of the services both companies are considering adding ‘pause ads’ to are available on Apple TV. 

Hulu said it plans to launch pause ads in 2019, but gave few details. Jeremy Gelfand, vice president and head of advertising platforms for Hulu said a pause is a “natural break in the storytelling experience” and defended the idea to air commercials during that period.

What is not known which Hulu services will be impacted by the ‘pause ads’, how long the advertisements will run, how many there will be, and whether the spots would be immediately interrupted or finish before returning to programming.

According to Hulu vice president and head of advertising platforms Jeremy Helfand, pause ads will not be home to long-form advertisements, but will instead focus on commercials where advertisers “have seconds” to deliver a message effectively. 

Matt Van Houten, vice president of product at Xandr Media, AT&T’s advertising division, told Variety the company is also planning to start a similar program on its DirecTV Now service. “We know you’re going to capture 100% viewability when they pause and unpause. There’s a lot of value in that experience.”

Van Houten said the company is also working on interactive advertisements where consumers would get additional information on by clicking on a remote.

Whether ‘pause ads’ will be accepted by the consumer is debatable. Tim Halon, CEO of media and advertising consultancy company Vetere Group, wonders if they will be too much of a disruption.

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should…if it’s simply inserting, let’s say a reverse-mortgage ad with a direct-response phone number? I don’t know if that aids the consumer experience,” said Halon.

A similar advertising-like program by Netflix back in August was met with subscriber angst and was never adopted on a wider scale. Netflix executives still claim that there is not currently a plan to run traditional commercial advertisements on its service. 

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as,,,, and He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the AOL, the BBC, Associated Press, and United Press International.

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