Commercial Break in Progress – What Does It Mean?


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We all love watching our Favourite programs on-air, and we wish we can run through them without any interruptions or breaks. Then all of a sudden, a blue screen appears from nowhere, with an image that reads “commercial break in progress”, and an annoying rhythm that follows this message. So what does this mean?

A commercial break in progress means that the TV is on a regional commercial break, and there is no regional commercial available at that moment to be displayed. Hence the blue screen would be displayed with the words “Commercial break in progress”. Ads are meant to be inserted by local cable or satellite companies.

Just like most people, you may not be a fan of blank commercial break screens, and the music might just be awful to you. All these are added as a filler to the unavailable Ad, and it replaces it for the time being. Also, this filler does not last longer than the Ad that is taking its place, although it might feel like forever since it’s the same image, and sound over a while. Let’s look into how long this may last.

How Long Do Commercial Breaks Take?

Just as we discussed above, the “commercial break in progress” screen lasts just as long as the supposed Ad is meant to last. So good news, this filler screen won’t take long. I know you are curious to find out how long you would have to wait to get back to your show, and if I was in your shoes, I would do the same. So how long do commercial breaks last?

There is no fixed duration for commercial breaks. They are different across various TV Networks. During a show, breaks can take from 2-3 minutes. At the top, or bottom of each hour, breaks can span as long as 4 minutes, and this includes promotional slots from the network. Each Ad lasts about 30 – 60 seconds.

The most valuable time for Ads is the first 15 seconds of the break. Some Ads that last even longer may take up the whole Ad space for that segment. For most people, commercial breaks are periods when they do most of the important stuff that can be done in under 4 minutes. 

What Do You Do During Commercial Breaks?

If you hate “commercial break in progress”, you may get bored easily while waiting for the break to end. Instead of sitting there sheepishly looking at the television with no control of what is going on, you can try these different things to make use of your time very well.

You can try some of the following tasks below to help save your time, and also while away time as the Ads show:

  • Try taking 4 minutes to Exercise and stretch. Simple squats, planks, sit-ups, or push-ups can go a long way.
  • You can plan for the next day. This way, you can decide in the evening what you want to do for the next day.
  • Check your emails and chats. You can also take this time to clear up your email storage. 
  • You can also arrange appointments that you want to take care of in the future.
  • You can write in a diary. Self-help experts believe that keeping a journal is good for your mental health.
  • You can book where you want to go on vacation.
  • You can write down project ideas. When watching TV, we can become creative so you need to have a project book at hand.

With these, you can become immediately productive not giving up all your time on commercial breaks and advertisements.

Why Are Commercials So Short?

You might have noticed a TV ad that has been airing together with your favorite show, and the Ad may run for about 1 minute. Later, this Ad keeps getting short, and the full video you might have subconsciously had in mind is not what has been displayed anytime that Ad comes on. So what is making these commercials so short?

Well, TV commercials are first made to a full length, and this takes a minute or more. This commercial is aired over, and over again until the product establishes its presence. Then the Ad is edited into 30, 20, or 10 secs so that only the primary message is broadcast.

This reduces advertisement costs and aims to catch the first 15 secs before viewers can make any move. It is an advertisement skill most companies use so they don’t bore the viewers when a commercial break comes through.


So now you know what “commercial break in progress” means, you wouldn’t get upset when next you see the blue screen with the background music. It is something that won’t last long, and you would get back to your program as soon as the time elapses. If you don’t even want to wait, there are a couple of things you can do to make use of your valuable time while waiting for your show to come back on.

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