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Reality TV Ad Space: The Real Star of the Show

May 16th, 2019   ||    by Callie Wheeler

Purchasing reality TV ad space may be a great investment, as prices fall despite viewers keeping reality shows in top 10 lists. Though viewership has declined for top programs like The Voice, reality TV continues to draw attentive viewers, and many brands have taken note. Recent research suggests these slots may merit even more attention.

Reality TV Today

Late last year the industry noted reality shows were not the hits networks once had on their hands, as medical dramas and tear-jerkers like This is Us dominated ratings.

But a glance at Nielsen’s Top 10 lists from week to week show programs like The Voice, Survivor, and American Idol continue to make compelling plays for viewers’ time, even at a smaller scale. Reality programs made up a quarter of last season’s top 20 programs for the coveted 18-49 demographic according to Deadline.

The Price of Reality Viewers’ Attention

The viewers who tune in to these programs are appealing audiences. Last fall, Ad Age’s list of the priciest shows on broadcast found The Voice in two of the top 10 slots. The program’s Monday slot was number six while its Tuesday slot took the number 10 spot on the list.

But within this report was information that should grab advertisers’ attention: the reality show’s ad prices were down an average of 17 percent from the year before.

Falling Prices

The Voice is not alone with its decreasing ad prices. Reality blurred compiled a list of reality show ad prices and found many had fallen, several seeing as much as a 20 percent drop versus the prior year’s prices.

The biggest losers were American Idol, Shark Tank, Dancing with the Stars, and The Voice. So what does this mean for advertisers?

Investing in Reality TV Ad Space

As prices for these programs drop, brands may embrace an opportunity to reach these audiences at a lower cost. Consider these tactics for making the most of reality TV ad space:

  1. Analyze location trends and run regional campaigns: Broadcasting & Cable’s recent research showed Boston is a key location for Hell’s Kitchen viewers, and Maine is a hot spot for Survivor fans.
  2. The same study showed the highest amount of viewership crossover between The Voice and Dancing with the Stars. Knowing this will allow you to avoid duplicate advertising or intentionally run ads on both shows that build off each other.
  3. Stretch the impact of your ads by ensuring they fit into an audience-specific, omnichannel strategy.

While not the leading shows they once were, in terms of ad space cost or audience numbers, reality programming offers advertisers the time and attention of primetime viewers across the country.

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