Prime Time Informercials

CNN and ABC did not want to compromise its programmes. CBS, NBC. and Fox took Obama’s money and sold America’s prime viewing time to Obama.

At least here in Canada I’ll still be able to watch Bones tonight.

The epidemic of informercials on TV has certainly been a bitch at times when searching for something to watch.

But until today prime time was off limits to infomercials. A one time political infomercial doesn’t bother me, but what I can see happening is some big US auto companies pulling out their wallets to buy 30 minutes saturated prime air time. I hear its quite cheap . Four million dollars will get you at least 3 major networks to co-operate and air your sales pitch simultaneously.

During my lifetime I’ve seen the following adverising intrusions on my life since the days of billboards spot commercials, newspaper ads and door to door salespeople.

Ads on hockey rink boards
Ads on hockey rinks
Ads on professional football fields (CFL)
Fliers delivered
Fliers mailed
late night early morning television fomercials
weekend television infomercials
Just wait America. Welcome to the new reality of prime time infomercials.

There’s certainly nothing new about prime time infomercials. Ross Perot did the same thing in 1992 – of course we know how well that worked out for him.

Around here a local supermarket chain buys a half-hour every few months and gives cooking lessons (featuring promoted ingredients, of course.) After several massive power failures our local electric utility bought 30 minutes to convince viewers they weren’t the avaricious, incompetent bunch of crooks we all thought they were.

It’s not common because 1) sponsors know the viewership will be a fraction of a typical prime-time show, and would rather invest in a 30-second commercial that will be seen by more people, and 2) stations know that some percentage of viewers that tune out an infomercial won’t come back later in the evening, and so want to charge a premium to help cover the lower rating for the rest of the evening.

well, 4 million dollars buys half an hour of time for POLITICAL infomercials. By law, the networks must offer the cheapest rate available for political advertising. The same doesn’t hold true for regular informercials. So the price will rightly be jacked up.

So lets say it cost $10 million to buy one half hour on one station. Worth it? Depends.

  1. The station can still refuse to take the money and air the infomercial.
  2. The station, even assuming it says “$10 million is a heck of a lot more than we can make airing show X” may still look at its overall bottom line and say that the net effect is a loss of viewship. Which it probably will be
  3. You need to get a bang for your buck. Who’s going to watch half an hour of Ford saying how awesome its cars are? Or to look for the union label? Or Kix really is kid tested and mother approved? Not enough.

I forgot to mention two other things.

  1. Networks frown on their affiliates pre-empting network shows too much. In fact, some network contracts include a stipulation that the station can only pre-empt X hours per year for non-news programming.

  2. As for the networks themselves selling prime time infomercials, in the U.S. there’s a sticky little rule by our FCC that says networks are responsible for the programs they broadcast (except for paid political programs.) It’s unlikely an American TV network would allow an infomercial producer to say whatever it wanted without clearance by the network. And it’s unlikely someone who’s ready to pony up millions of dollars for a prime-time infomercial is willing to accept network censors saying “we’ll need to have verification that the Amazing Juicer is, in fact, amazing.”

The law is different late at night? :dubious:

We have 800 channels and Obama was on 3. WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!??!?!

Late at night you’re seeing local station programing, not network TV.

Moving thread from IMHO to Cafe Society.