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The TV Upfronts Guide: What Brands Should Advertise to Niche TV Audiences

May is no ordinary month in the North American Television industry. It’s the month of upfronts – where major marketers/advertisers buy commercial airtime months in advance, or “upfront”, from the nation’s largest broadcasters. Held each year in NYC, the upfronts are when broadcast networks announce their fall schedules, launch dates, and new programming, while entertaining network execs, the press, and major advertisers with glamourous events and after-parties.

While the upfronts are considered to be, ‘the event of the year’ for the TV industry (hey, NBC is even hosting a private Jennifer Lopez concert on the first night of the annual upfronts), the upfronts are also where advertisers line up media deals that can soar into the billions. For advertisers, knowing what shows their audiences are interested in and resonate with is critical when entertaining a major media buy.  

At Affinio, we took a keen interest in this year’s upfronts and what shows advertisers will go after. The Affinio platform is able to identify the accounts, content, and people that matter most to any niche audience. By understanding network TV audiences intimately, advertisers are able to leverage these insights to inform ad placement, partnerships, and creative (Reminder: BrAve, parent company of TV[R]ev,  is an investor in Affinio).

To demonstrate, we analyzed the Twitter audience of a couple of popular network television shows prior to their upfront. Using this analysis, we identified three brands that should consider purchasing commercial airtime with the selected shows, based on their social affinity. Affinio segments audiences into communities based on their shared interest, and for this analysis I have based my findings on the niche communities with the highest shared interests found within the overall social audience.
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While television advertising is sometimes seen as a spray and pray method to reach mass audiences, it is now possible to hone in on specific niche groups of viewers.

 

NBC – Shades of Blue

NBC’s new show, Shades of Blue, starring powerhouse Jennifer Lopez was announced for a season two renewal in early February. This comes as no surprise to TV experts as the show was one of NBC’s biggest debuts in recent years and leveraging J.Lo’s star power never hurts, right?

Based on our Affinio analysis, three brands that should consider purchasing airtime with Shades of Blue that would appeal to its niche community of “Sports Dads” are:

  1. Nike
  2. Jordan
  3. Buffalo Wild Wings

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Other highly relevant brands to this niche community are pictured above, such as PlayStation, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Under Armour.


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NBC – Blindspot

NBC’s new drama, Blindspot, was a breakout hit. After its debut, the show almost immediately received a season-two renewal. The series currently ranks as the number one new fall series among adults ages 18-49. Based on its early popularity, we think advertisers will be vying for airtime during this show. However, three brands likely to outperform other advertisers (based on their social affinity) in a niche “Superhero Fans” community are:

  1. Marvel Entertainment
  2. Netflix
  3. Funko

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Other highly relevant brands to this niche community are pictured above, such as GameStop, EA, and Xbox.

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CBS – The Big Bang Theory

Bazinga! CBS’s long-standing hit, The Big Bang Theory, has been renewed for season 10. Ratings for the show, which is wrapping up its ninth season on May 12, are still high with an average of +15 million viewers tuning in to each episode. Although there is speculation that the tenth season may be its last, this crowd-pleaser will be sure to attract some big name advertisers. Three brands that are currently resonating with a niche “Nerd” audience include:

  1. ThinkGeek
  2. Comic-Con
  3. Marvel

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Other highly relevant brands to this niche community are pictured above, such as PlayStation, SEGA, and Steam.

Do you think Sheldon Cooper would approve of these choices?

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FOX – Gotham

In early April FOX announced that the Batman prequel series, Gotham, would be officially renewed for a season 3 after a steady ratings and viewership performance in season two. The show, which averages 9 million viewers an episode, was ranked as a Top 10 Entertainment Program amongst men falling into the 18-49 demographic.

Advertisers wishing to reach this demographic may find interest in the superhero drama. However, the advertisers already resonating with a niche community of “Comics” fans include:

  1. comiXology
  2. Funko
  3. Netflix

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Other highly relevant brands to this niche community are pictured above, such as Nintendo, Lego, and GameStop.

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FOX – New Girl

FOX’s comedy, New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel, has been picked up for a season six, despite its overall ratings decreasing since last year. New Girl is one of FOX’s legacy shows; it’s Fox’s longest-running live-action comedy on the air and put the network back on the comedy map.

For advertisers wishing to reach a niche community of “Fashion” fans, here are the top performing brands:

  1. Kate Spade
  2. Sephora
  3. Michael Kors

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Other highly relevant brands to this niche community are pictured above, such as DVF, Forever 21, and Marc Jacobs.

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While TV is an excellent medium to reach mass audiences, it is now possible to better understand the culture of niche TV audiences. VaynerMedia recently used our platform to understand the TV audience’s that engaged online for a show premiere.

By focusing on the interests and passions of niche audiences, advertisers and networks are able to make smarter, better marketing, and partnership decisions; therefore allocating their TV dollars in an effective manner.

 

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  1. […] May is no ordinary month in the North American Television industry. It’s the month of upfronts – where major marketers/advertisers buy commercial airtime months in advance, or “upfront”, from the nation’s largest broadcasters. Held each year in NYC, the upfronts are when broadcast networks announce their fall schedules, launch dates, and new programming, while entertaining network execs, the press, and major advertisers with glamourous events and after-parties.  […]