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Are TV Commercials During the Upcoming Awards Season Worth the Spend?

November 27th, 2018   ||    by Callie Wheeler

Awards season and TV commercials go together like Rodgers and Hammerstein, or Salt N Pepa. But this year we’re stopping to ask: Are ads worth the spend? Recent declines in viewership of live events—from sports to awards shows—are calling the return on investment into question. We consider whether investing in TV ads in the coming months will have the payoff that brands seek.

Awards Season Is Here

Starting in September with the Emmys, “awards season” lasts until the Oscars in February and includes film, television, and music awards shows. Like live sporting events, these programs provide unique opportunities for brands to reach engaged audiences watching in real-time—to avoid spoilers—rather than later. Usually, this is enough of a reason to invest in airing commercials, but not anymore.

Cause for Concern

The main reason advertisers may consider skipping TV commercials this year is consistently declining viewership. Variety reported 2018 Oscars’ viewership was down 19 percent compared to the year before, and it’s not the only live event seeing declines. Compared to 2014, this year’s World Cup saw ratings down 44 percent, according to Bloomberg.

Despite efforts to draw viewers, this year’s Emmys saw the lowest viewership in its history, reported AP News, indicating this awards season is not off to a great start.

Staying Optimistic

But there are reasons advertisers consider investing in the shows, despite viewership issues. Just like Super Bowl ads, advertisements that run during programs like the Oscars or Grammys have a life beyond the moment they air. With brands creating more cinematic ads, and viewers’ willingness to watch and share them online before or after the program, TV commercials have greater reach and impact. This year’s Oscars featured such noteworthy ads that they merited a write-up in the New York Times.

Additionally, awards shows are working to become more relevant, though not without controversy. While strategically selected hosts are now standard, the most noteworthy is the Oscars’ new category—”Outstanding Popular Film”—which was announced alongside a shortened ceremony time, Vanity Fair reported. These changes may draw new viewers or entice former viewers to return.

Predicting the Future

While viewership is down, there doesn’t seem to be a substitute for live events when it comes to advertising opportunity. From the press ads receive to the excitement surrounding the awards themselves, awards season really does give brands a unique chance to reach both viewers and non-viewers alike. We can’t predict the future, but we’re betting TV commercials are still getting the investment.

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