September 16th, 2008

Nielsen: Networks Hit By Big Product Placement Drops

By Wayne Friedman
MediaDailyNews

TV product placements showed double-digit declines on broadcast and cable networks for the first half of this year, according to The Nielsen Company, driven mostly by a drop in cable program activity.

Surveying some 11 networks by Nielsen’s Product Placement Service, Place*Views, overall product placements dropped 15% to 204,919. Broadcast networks increased their number of placements during the period by 12%, while cable networks dropped 20%. In regard to the top 10 shows, broadcast programs numbered 21,427 occurrences in total, and 85,480 for cable.

The rise by broadcast networks can be partly attributed to channels airing more reality shows during January and February to counter the writers’ strike. Reality series traditionally carry many more product placements than scripted shows.

The Nielsen report notes that two major reality shows did well. “Biggest Loser,” which normally airs in the fall, aired in the spring and boosted overall numbers. Likewise, Fox moved up “Hell’s Kitchen” to April from a June start, putting more episodes in Nielsen’s total in the first half-year results.

High again on the list of biggest number of occurrences for networks was Fox’s “American Idol"--which grabbed the No. 1 spot again with 4,636 occurrences, followed closely by NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” which came in second at 4,364.

The next eight of the top 10 shows had half as much as these top two shows, which included “Deal or No Deal,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “The Apprentice.” The only scripted show to make the top 10 was CW’s “One Tree Hill,” which came in seventh place at 1,308.

In terms of the impact of product placement, two feel-good reality shows--"Extreme Makeover” and “Oprah’s Big Give"--scored the best results. “Makeover” had four of the top 10 best results, with Paramount Pictures’ “Speed Racer” and Sears getting strong positive recognition: 63.6% and 63.2%, respectively. The highest scorer in this category was Target, with a 65% number, for one March episode of “Oprah’s Big Give.”

The most dominant brands in pure number of placements were soft-drink maker Coca-Cola (2,900 occurrences), health-club chain 24-Hour Fitness (1,765) and cookware maker Chef Revival (1,308), given their respective associations with steady TV product-placement friendly shows “Idol,” “Loser” and “Hell’s Kitchen.”

The best cable TV show was again TLC’s “American Chopper,” with 26,794 occurrences. Bravo’s popular “Project Runway” was far behind in second place with 10,316. Bravo’s “Top Chef” was just behind at 9,316. TLC and MTV each had four shows in the top 10, with Bravo taking the other two spots. 

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