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Direct Response Marketing

2016 Media Timeline: ‘You Are Looking Live …’

1 Dec, 2015 By: Eddie Wilders Response

The usual array of live events — plus the Olympics and political races — promise advertisers great opportunity on the changing TV landscape.


Technology and innovation have always had places within the television landscape. As the era of “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” turned to color programming, the possibilities seemed endless. The first and only time that the Super Bowl was carried by two networks — CBS and NBC in 1967 — each earned a market share of more than 45.

Later, the 1970s gave way to Laser Discs and VHS. For the first time, the audience saw their favorite movies and programs on their own time. The 1980s brought about MTV, ESPN, and a whole slew of pay cable networks that increased the average viewer’s channel selection from seven — to about a billion.

Since then, we’ve been introduced to DVDs, Blu-rays, TiVo, and the concept of DVRs, video-on-demand (VOD), as well as streaming sites and apps. We’ve been through what seems like five or six “Golden Ages of TV,” and content has never been as well produced or well received as it is today. We have the ability to watch whatever we want, whenever we want. The television industry is still trying to figure it all out, with everyone from agencies to networks to advertisers throwing their hands up in confusion.

What we don’t have to figure out is the concept of live programming — one of the last vestiges from the olden days that draws millions of viewers to their nearest television, giving the advertiser a specific time to reach their audience. The coming year — 2016 — is full of these opportunities for big audiences, and hopefully bigger returns.

Even though there have been declines in viewership year over year, the Golden Globes remains the biggest party in entertainment. No matter the host, there are at least two or three incidents that instantly blow up the Internet, and cause people to talk for days on end. That kind of promise is something that comes from live programming, and advertisers love it. The Golden Globes may have limited inventory remaining, but the price may be worth it.

Every year, the Super Bowl breaks its own viewership record. This year, CBS is charging an unprecedented $4.5 million per 30-second spot, and as of November 1, inventory was about 90-percent sold out. The biggest program of the year garners the biggest advertisers out there, and the 2017 edition doesn’t seem to be short on top-tier brands. With categories ranging from alcohol to car brands to technology, the Super Bowl promises to be a who’s-who of advertisers — and it will be interesting to see if online-to-offline, performance-based advertisers like Wix.com and GoDaddy return to the fold.

If your brand is one of glitz and glamour, there is no other program during the year that hits both better than the Academy Awards. Airing at the end of February, ABC rolls out the red carpet to a slew of high-end products and brands hitting the movie-viewing target. These days, what the actors and actresses are wearing induces more dialogue than what film brings home the Best Picture Oscar.

Much like the Golden Globes, the audience seems to lessen every year, but there is still an opportunity for a brand to make a big splash. Samsung earned big cheers for its “Selfie Heard Round the World,” as social media took hold of the picture, changing the way product placement can be used.

Opportunities in live programming have always been dominated by the sports world. More and more brands try to hitch their wagons to these programs because they know that they will be attracting a certain type of viewer.

As each year passes, that certain viewer has given way to the general public, as the viewing audience for March Madness — the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — has grown to include both genders and all ages. With programming spread out over CBS, TNT, Tru TV, TBS, as well as a streaming component, the NCAA has the opportunity to reach everyone they want to reach at all times of the day.

March Madness is one of the only times where the boss will allow you to watch sports at your desk (and that’s because they are probably doing the same). The tournament gives the advertisers two weeks of highly contested basketball games to push their products and brands in an effort to gain a broader audience. Unlike award shows, viewership remains consistent or has grown as the years pass, making March Madness one of the go-to events of the year.

There are three certainties in 2016: a leap year, the Olympics, and a presidential election. Airing during the first two weeks of August, the Olympics are sure to be an advertising cash cow for NBC. With expectations of more than $1 billion in advertising, NBC has positioned itself to once again lead the 18-49 viewership chase.