Local commercials: What am I missing?

When I’m seeing an advertisement for “Bob’s Main Street Car Dealership” on a national network, what is everyone else seeing? I’m just sure I’m missing some important message telling me about new improvements made to existing products or jingles encouraging me to use one product or another.

Surely not everyone is seeing the local ads I am, so what are they seeing instead? Aren’t the national advertisers ticked that their message isn’t reaching me?

They’re seeing their own local ads. Cetain spots are open for national ads and other for various local ads. The local spots are synched so no national ads are missed.


During broadcasts, some time slots are sold to national advertisers. Others are left open for local ads. You hit the nail on the head. People in other areas are seeing their own local commercials or filler, or even whatever crap the network broadcasts during the breaks in which you see your local spots.

They’re known as “local avails”, giving network affiliates opportunity to either sell advertising to local businesses during prime-time (at a significantly higher price than other hours of course), or promote the station’s own programming such as an upcoming newscast or syndicated shows.

For affiliates who do not run advertising during the local avails, the network almost always runs promos for its own shows, sometimes in the form of 90-second (or even longer) “mega” promos. Sometimes national advertisers can buy time on the network during local avails at a reduced rate, since most affiliates won’t be airing their commercials.

But I know something is being run, I always kind of wondered but I really got suspicious while watching CNBC. The stock ticker runs across the bottom, and when the local cable company runs ads for digital cable I can see a thin strip inbetween the ticker and the cable ad. That’s what I was wondering about.

My friends who have a big dish satellite system are assigned one affiliate station for each national network. This changes every six months or a year. For example, last time I visited the NBC channel they got was from Tennessee and CBS was from PR, I think. It’s surprising how disorientating local ads for other places are, and they see them all year round.