ABC fit 3 hours’ worth of commercials into Lost’s 2.5 hour finale.
The TL;DR Version
As previously mentioned it felt like there were a lot of commercials and a lot of commercial *breaks in the Lost finale.
Using EyeTV on the Mac, I went through and marked all of the commercial breaks. You can see them indicated in the image above (click for larger size).
There were 12 commercial breaks:
1) 8:24-10:40 (8m3s of show, 2m16s of commercials)
2) 18:14-21:06 (7m34s of show, 2m52s of commercials)
3) 27:07-30:13 (6m1s of show, 3m6s of commercials)
4) 36:22-39:26 (6m9s of show, 3m4s of commercials)
5) 44:14-47:46 (4m48s of show, 3m32s of commercials)
6) 54:02-58:24 (6m16s of show, 4m22s of commercials)
7) 1:05:18-1:09:40 (6m54s of show, 3m22s of commercial)
8) 1:18:25-1:22:47 (9m45s of show, 2m22s of commercial)
9) 1:28:07-1:32:00 (5m20s of show, 3m53s of commercial)
10) 1:37:33-1:42:07 (5m33s of show, 4m34s of commercial)
11) 1:46:58-1:51:35 (4m51s of show, 4m37s of commercial)
12) 2:06:16-2:10:49 (14m41s of show, 4m33s of commercial)
End at 2:30 (19m11s of show)
After marking the commercial breaks, I exported the show from EyeTV and opened the resulting file in VLC. It came out as 1 hour, 43 minutes and 58 seconds.
Which means ABC showed about 46 minutes of commercials in 2.5 hours.
In a normal hour of network television, you will expect about 15 minutes of commercials. ABC fit in three hours’ worth of commercials in 2.5 hours.
Looking at it this way it’s clear that ABC’s motto for commercial breaks was “Many and Often.” Break number 10 was particularly egregious, where we were given 5.5 minutes of show followed by 4.5 minutes of commercials. Absolutely absurd.
The two longest chunks of actual show were at the end, starting around 10:50 pm. During that last 40 minutes, they showed 33m52 of actual show. Contrast that to the first 40 minutes of the show, where they gave us only 27m47s of Lost. That’s a difference of over 6 minutes.
Clearly ABC saw this as an opportunity to cash in on a short-term advertising reward instead of an opportunity to garner any good will towards the most faithful fans of the show or thank them for their attention over the past 6 years. This will surprise absolutely no one, but I felt like mentioning it anyway.
Assuming that ABC eventually puts a streaming version of the Lost finale on ABC.com, it would be interesting to see how many breaks they include.
(Last bit of nerd notes: on my TiVo the show started around 22 seconds after 9pm, and I set EyeTV to run a few minutes longer at the end to make sure it didn’t cut off the end. I used the free ETVComskip to automatically mark the commercials in EyeTV, and it did an excellent job. It correctly identified all of the commercial breaks, although it was wrong on some of the start/end points. Still, if you record broadcast television with your EyeTV, be sure to get ETVComskip.)