In a recent wide-ranging report, Kantar Media said a whopping 31-and-a-half minutes in a given hour of a typical TV reality show feature some kind of advertising/marketing message. This includes standard national 30-second inventory, TV promos, in-show product placement and other branded entertainment messages.
That means less than half of the viewing time of the average TV reality show is devoted to actual content rather than some form of TV advertising. If that's not enough, Kantar says this survey doesn't even include local TV ad messages that are seen. An outstanding statistic, overall.
When including scripted TV shows, Kantar says total average network TV marketing/advertising time comes to almost 24 minutes/hour, about 40% of a typical prime-time hour.
Late-night network talk shows were almost as bad as network reality shows: 29-and-a-half minutes of brand appearances and advertising messaging. (No doubt, much of this includes movie trailers that are presented by actors-guests of a show.)
Perhaps the biggest news is that nine-and-a-half minutes of the average network programming show has "in-show" branded stuff attached. In reality shows, we know all about the messaging for 24 Hour Fitness in "The Biggest Loser," Coca-Cola in "American Idol," or various cookware manufacturers in "Hell's Kitchen" or "MasterChef."
Some would suggest that branded in-show advertising messaging doesn't really dominate content, but is rather just part of it. If some character on "Modern Family" gets a bowl of Cheerios this season during a funny, off-kilter, or embarrassing morning kitchen scene, that TV producer might say the effort is worth it because it includes a "real" product, making it more authentic.
That's the real bottom line for viewers: Does it add entertainment value?
We don't know, really. One thing for sure: It virtually never hurts. Even bad product placement/branded entertainment doesn't turn off viewers, according to research. Not one product placement/branded entertainment deal has ever single-handedly killed a TV show because viewers were turned off.
That's great news. There is little downside for a TV marketer to participate -- and perhaps a greater chance of getting buzz. No wonder all this activity keeps growing.
The only question: What happens when this activity grows to 60% or 70% of an hour's worth of TV time? Will viewers finally speak up then? Or maybe it won't matter after all?