Can Live Shows Be Hospitable To Live Commercials?

Live programming, a growing TV “category,” could include more live marketing messages in the near future.

We are talking not about live branding and product placements, but about good, old-fashioned commercials -- with an emphasis on the “old.”

Performer/producer Sean Hayes is pushing a new live sitcom “Hospitality, ” centering on the staff of a midtown Manhattan hotel, for NBC. The Hollywood Reportersays “Hospitality” would air live every week with live commercials.

In TV’s early days -- the 1950s especially -- many commercials were done live by famous talent on a regular basis.  

At that time, TV commanded big-time awareness levels. Now, some 60 years later, with lots of alternatives nipping at TV’s heels, live commercials might be seen as providing more value for marketers -- especially those looking for scale that digital media alternatives can’t provide.



We don’t know how many live commercials will be in each episode of “Hospitality.”  But we know that live programming -- and the commercials in those shows, though not live -- have worked fairly well for marketers.

Late-night talk-show hosts -- Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and others -- have toyed with “live” commercials.  But much of that doesn’t come with the consistency that “Hospitality” seems to tout.

The new show might give a hint about what a steady stream of live commercials during an ongoing prime-time series would mean to marketers in terms of entertainment value, engagement and return on investment.

A lot has already been made of live programming -- not just big-time sports like the NFL, but live musicals. NBC had big success with “The Sound of Music” last holiday season. Upcoming are NBC’s “Peter Pan” and Fox’s “Grease.”  

TV marketing executives are excited about this trend for its immediacy as well as the expectation of decreased time-shifting and its accompanying commercial avoidance through fast-forwarding.

The issue for “Hospitality,” of course, will be making the live commercials special. It is all good and well to have big-name talent like Sean Hayes touting your product. It’s perhaps tougher to come up with entertaining bits week in and week out.

The good news is that viewers probably already know this -- especially if they have watched any episodes of “Mad Men” or “The Crazy Ones.”

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