Television Networks Look to Build Revenue With Live Ads and Sponsored Plot Lines

For the second time in the last week, we see what may be a new approach to promotion within television shows. Last week it was a special test of placement-and-purchase promotion, where viewers could buy items they saw while watching a television program.

Today we see promotion that is even more direct as it uses a television show’s cast members to deliver the message. While advertising featuring cast members is something we discussed last year, as explained in this New York Times story, what makes this a new approach to promotion is that cast members are pitching products in-person during the live telecast of two TV Land sitcoms.

Now we say this is something new, but new in marketing is often a relative term. In fact, while this may be new to a large majority of viewers of these shows, it is certainly not the first time live cast member advertising has been presented. This method of advertising was actually the common form of television advertising back in the 1950s, when television was in its infancy. For example, check out the accompanying YouTube video of a 1950s children’s show at about the 2:30 minute mark.

While these live commercials are catching attention, it is somewhat unclear if this will be a trend given that so few shows are presented live. But also discussed in this story is another evolving promotional method in which sponsors pay to be included in the plot line of a show. Compared to the live ads, the relatively simple execution needed to present sponsored plot line ads almost certainly means these will be a common occurrence over the next few years.