Commentary

Advertisers Still Abandoning Shows Because Of Inappropriate On- Or Off-Air Behavior

While many things have radically changed in the TV/media content world, at least one fact is certain: TV advertisers still have no problems leaving what they deem “inappropriate” programming.

The latest network to deal with this plight, TLC, has seen some advertisers publicly disclose their intent to stop media buys of the reality show “19 Kids and Counting” because the oldest son of the Duggar, family, Josh, had reportedly admitted to child molestation as a teenager.

Walgreens, General Mills, Choice Hotels, and Payless ShoeSource, are among the advertisers who issued statements about leaving the show.

Previously TLC had similar problems with “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” over another child molestation issue. TLC then stopped that series.

TLC also had ad issues with “Jon & Kate Plus 8” in 2009 -- another seemingly safe family-oriented reality show, which changed dramatically when Jon & Kate Gosselin decided to get divorced. TLC revamped that show after Jon left the program (more or less) and called it “Kate Plus 8.” 

Overall, TV advertisers will take quick action when the dynamics of a program change from a show’s original intention.  Other executives might downplay this, saying TV media schedules are always fluid anyway.  But then there’s this double-edged sword: Big news stories about reality shows can skyrocket ratings.

Now, a decade and a half after the high profile “Survivor” debuted on CBS in the summer of 2000, reality shows aren’t what they used to be. They can’t shock as much anymore. TV advertisers know the rules -- and risks, as shows continue to vie for a ever-decreasing supply of TV rating points amid a growing world of quality TV-video content -- scripted, unscripted, sports, news, etc.

A desensitized and restless TV consumer base will only create more TV advertiser movement -- that is, if anyone will notice.

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