Sitcom Report: TV Advertising Insights

Inside the Report

Primetime sitcoms are a staple of television going back decades, and they’re a staple for advertisers as well. Airing primarily on network TV, these shows are some of the biggest audience draws aside from live sports and news. But with a more defined viewership, in many cases, brands that advertise during today’s (more family-focused) sitcoms need the proper playbook to make sure the ad buys are worth it.

The top 10 (active) sitcoms for the 2019-20 TV season accounted for 16.4 billion ad impressions, and interestingly, more than 15% of those impressions did not come from live viewing. iSpot’s latest report on sitcoms — both the shows and the brands that advertise during them — highlights that while many viewers are still watching live, a significant part of this audience is DVR-ing and then catching up at least three days later.

Department store brands made up the largest percentage of ad impressions during those top 10 sitcoms, with over 1 billion during live airings of those shows. Target also led the way during these sitcoms, with over 33% more impressions than the next closest brand (Facebook). As was the case with many of the advertisers to appear, both brands showcased creative approaches that were repeatedly timely and responsive to the changing environment in the country during the previous TV season.

Though the current TV season has started slow, we’re already starting to learn a little bit more about both current sitcoms and animated comedies as well. With social distancing less of a concern for cartoons, shows like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” were able to return to screens weeks ago. But many live action sitcoms are only now returning.

Brands advertising during sitcoms this this fall have also looked to strike the right balance between sales (early Black Friday messaging) and current affairs (like Facebook’s recent voter-focused spot).

While they’re not the same audiences as primetime sitcoms, our report also looks at syndicated sitcoms, and how they’ve performed in 2020. The pandemic put a spotlight on scatter for ad buyers earlier this year, and sitcoms — like “Friends,” “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” — make up a good portion of that inventory. Understanding more about advertising during these frequently airing syndicated shows has become a growing aspect of any media planning, especially with more potential uncertainty going in 2021.

Interested in learning more about sitcoms and how brands are advertising during those shows both last year and in 2020? Take a look at iSpot’s latest report.

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