When brands choose to partner with a television shows for product placement opportunity, choosing the right show matters.

Genre: Comedy, Drama or Other?

The choice of which television show brands choose to place their products depends on a variety of factors. What is the audience target of that particular show? What is the message that the show sends, and how will that reflect on the brand? What is the caliber of the show’s talent who will be seen interacting with the brand? And then there’s the question revolving around the common objective of brand exposure: Which shows get the most viewership?

Of course, no one really knows how well a show will do in terms of viewership until ratings are revealed after the show airs.

According to a 2012 report, dramas turned out to be the most successful.  That statistic seems to reflect the success of multiple drama shows this past season.

Though genres lighter in nature tend to be the most widely watched, certain dark dramas have proved to be extremely popular.

The AMC drama Breaking Bad garnered an impressive 10.3 million viewers during the extended 75-minute episode during its original broadcast, up from the prior week’s 6.6 million.  The only show to surpass these finale viewership numbers is AMC’s other hit drama, The Walking Dead, currently the network’s most watched original broadcast.

Though the Breaking Bad finale was highly anticipated, it went up against big competitors including Sunday Night Football, Showtime’s Homeland, and premieres across the other big networks.  Football prevailed, with Breaking Bad trailing behind.

Not have drama shows brought in great viewership numbers, but the genre had the second highest product placement activity with 29% of placements.

According to the same 2012 study, both drama and sitcom shares of the prime time audience have grown year by year.

This seems to be accurate, as the comedy genre fared well in viewership numbers in looking at premiere viewership numbers.

CBS comedies did extremely well, with returning heavy weights coming back strong: The Big Bang Theory at 18.3 million viewers, and How I Met Your Mother at 9.3 million.  The network’s brand new comedy, The Crazy Ones, also performed well with 15.6 million viewers.

ABC’s comedy Modern Family owned its hour during its premiere at 11. 45 million viewers.

Though the comedies looked to lead most time slots, crime and horror shows held on to solid numbers: CBS’s Criminal Minds with 11.29 million viewers, NBC’s Law and Order: SVU at 9.07 million, and Sleepy Hollow pulling 8.6 million viewers.

CBS’s new drama Hostages was considered a flop with 7.5 million viewers, while NBC’s new drama Blacklist did very well with 12.6 million viewers.

As these numbers show—regardless of whether a successful show is returning, or if a new show has secured big-name talent—it is not always easy to gauge whether or not it will bring in numbers.

Format: Scripted, Live or Scripted?

Dramas made up 41% of prime time viewership, followed by sports at 22%.

Nielson studies show that the first 8 of the top 10 shows of the year consist of NFL programming, with Super Bowls bringing in staggering viewership, the highest being Super Bowl XLVI between the New York Giants and New England Patriots with 111.3 million viewers.

Sports content generates a much higher share of ad spend to viewership.  At the same time, sports shows hold a small share of time-shifted content, which is important to note in today’s age of the DVR. According to Nielson, prime time shows held 22% of time-shifted viewership as opposed to sports content’s 8%.

Of time-shifted prime time broadcast programming, 42.9% is played back the same day recorded, with 87.6% played back within the next 3 days.
So would it be more worth it for a brand to be placed within the content of a show that will likely be watched following its recording – perhaps even stopped, rewound and replayed – or a live sports game that commands a high viewership initially, but if not watched right away, will likely be thrown out?

Reality shows may not yield the high viewership numbers and ad spend dollars as that of drama shows and sports, but they have nonetheless been proven to be ideal for product placement.

Of all genres, product placement was most prevalent on reality shows, with 58% of all placements.

According to Nielson, Fox’s American Idol was the leader in prime time television placements with 577 total occurrences during first-run episodes.

The high number in placements on Idol makes sense for the time frame: In 2011-2012, the price for a spot 30-second spot on American Idol was about the same as that of Sunday Night Football. Its season premiere pulled 26.1 million viewers.

But Idol has been down in viewership and ad prices.  While this year’s premiere still reached 17.9 million viewers and more than $1 for its season finales last season, the numbers are progressively dropping year by year.

Conclusion

It is almost impossible to estimate whether or not a show will be successful. A show that is on top one year could easily drop the next depending on a variety of unforeseen factors.  Keeping atop industry trends and ratings is important, as Hollywood Branded Inc. constantly aims to do.

Remaining current with these industry trends, as well as choosing shows whose attributes align with the brand’s desired message is the best possible way to ensure placement program success .

Sources: Ad Age, Marketing Charts