ABC Sports, ESPN Debut Split Screen Commercial Non-Breaks
Perhaps permanently fending off TiVo's ad skipping abilities, ABC and ESPN debuted split screen commercial breaks during their coverage of the 2005 IndyCar Series races. During the telecast, commercial breaks (except for local breaks) did not interrupt race coverage. Using split screen technology, ESPN on March 6, and ABC on March 19, delivered ads in a larger screen while continuing to show race coverage in a smaller screen. The entire screen was branded by race sponsor Toyota. During the commercials, the audio feed from the race was silenced.
In truth, this commercial non-break approach would not work so well for episodic television but can work great for sports broadcasts as sound is not always needed to follow the game.