TV Networks look at more product placement to counteract ad skipping

networks integrate advertising into shows late night empire
Television networks are having trouble keeping viewers’ eyes on commercials in the age of streaming TV and DVRs. So it’s no surprise that several of them are toying with some interesting ideas for new commercial formats for the fall lineup in an aim to keep your focus on the show, and away from the fast-forward button.

According to Variety, several popular networks and shows, including Empire, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Best Show Over – a new variety show from Neil Patrick Harris – are batting ideas back and forth that would essentially integrate the ads right into the shows. This is nothing new – viewers often cringe when we see blatant product placements in TV shows, from Jack Bauer’s clearly-marked Spring phone used to communicate with Chloe on 24, to Seinfeld’s long line-up of Kellogg cereals in his kitchen. But these ideas would take the idea to a whole new level.

Related: Neil Patrick Harris’ jam-packed variety show Best Time Ever coming to NBC

With Best Show Ever, one idea is to award fans with something from every advertiser in a sort of game show format. Basically, watch the ads, perhaps perform some task or compete in some way, and you could win a gift bag. Reportedly, NBC is still tweaking the concept, but the show’s variety format will certainly lend itself perfectly to some interesting new twists to the traditional TV ad.

Fans of Empire, meanwhile, might be able to enjoy fewer commercials next season, but may have to contend with ads weaved into each episode that are up to 30 seconds long. There are no specifics as to how this might work, but considering Pepsi and Ford Motor’s Lincoln line have already signed on, we can make some pretty good guesses. Expect plenty of characters to be throwing back a Pepsi every now and then. Rum and Coke? No thanks. I’ll have mine with Pepsi. And Lincoln will undoubtedly be a vehicle of choice.

Stephen Colbert is on board with looking at creative, new advertising methods for his upcoming inaugural season as the new host of The Late Show, as wellReportedly, he may continue with the format fans have come to love on his previous show, The Colbert Report, where he openly pitches the products, but makes fun of them at the same time. In one of the most popular ones from The Report, Colbert mocked Kraft for the company’s list of rules for pitching Wheat Thins.

Other late night talk show hosts already include product pitches in between the show and commercials: Jimmy Kimmel, for example, often does short skits starring his sidekick Guillermo that promote products. It’s clearly an ad, but manages to keep the same general theme of the show.

Telemundo is also getting in on the action with its telenovelas, offering a second screen experience that allows viewers to watch more action from the show on their tablets and smartphones. As an example, if a character gets a text message, that message might appear on your smartphone, or if two characters leave the scene, you might still be able to follow them on your mobile device. If you’re really into your show, it’ll be tough to separate from it and do something else. Rather than surf an actor’s IMDB page or check your e-mail, you can remain engrossed in the program and, most importantly to sponsors, the ads, which will also follow and appear on your mobile device.

Naturally, it becomes much more difficult to skip past a commercial when it’s worked in as a part of the show – you don’t want to miss important dialogue. Let’s just hope they can be integrated in as subtle a way as possible so as not to take away from the actual storylines. That said, if fewer “commercials” are sold at higher prices, this could mean that the actual shows can run longer than usual – typically an hour drama really only runs about 40-45 minutes when you factor in standard commercial breaks.

It’s a give-and-take balance that has to be made when it comes to traditional broadcast networks. If the integration can be done tastefully, and doesn’t end up with Cookie Lyon walking around with a can of Pepsi in her hands everywhere she goes, or Colbert pushing energy drinks every 15 minutes, this could be just the strategy linear TV needs to keep viewers’ attention without interrupting their shows. Perhaps one day, it could even spell the end of the “commercial break.”

Movies & TV

Disney reveals epic first picture from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction

The Millennium Falcon is fueled up and ready to embark on its Smuggler's Run at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the new theme park attraction set to open in 2019 at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Home Theater

Kill your cable and switch to streaming with our painless guide

If you're going to quit cable or satellite for a streaming TV solution, you're going to want to get it right the first time. We've outlined exactly how to get started, step by step. Follow our lead, and you'll never look back.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

Looking for the best 4K Ultra HD TVs you can buy? Here are five great options

If it's time to upgrade your old 1080p to a new 4K model but you don't know what to look for, fear not, as we're here with a list of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs to help make your buying process as easy as possible.
Movies & TV

The best Amazon Original series, from 'Bosch' to 'Transparent'

Amazon Studios may not have as big a collection of in-house productions as Netflix, but there are still lots of shows worthy of your eyeballs. Here are our picks for the best Amazon original series.
Movies & TV

HBO Go vs. HBO Now: Which streaming service is right for you?

If you're looking to get access to HBO, you might be comparing HBO Go and HBO Now. We break down the differences between the twin streaming services and see how they compare to one another.
Movies & TV

Sit down and watch some of the best stand-up comedy on Netflix

Feeling a little funny? There are hundreds of hilarious comedy specials out there, and you can't be expected to comb through them all. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of the best stand-up specials on Netflix.
Movies & TV

Lose the torrents. Here's how to watch 'Game of Thrones' online (legally)

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Hulu, or Amazon.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what’s leaving in January 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for January 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Movies & TV

Our first look at 'The Punisher' season 2 hints at January 2019 premiere

The Punisher is getting a second season on Netflix, with Jon Bernthal returning to play Marvel Comics' gun-toting antihero, Frank Castle. Here's everything we know about season 2 of The Punisher so far.
Movies & TV

Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ sequel conjures up a director and a release date

Doctor Strange director and co-writer Scott Derrickson will return to helm the Sorcerer Supreme's next big-screen adventure. Filming will begin in 2020, after Strange's mysterious Avengers: Endgame fate is resolved.