×

NBCU Taps People’s Choice Awards to Blend Commercials, Content

Viewers who tune in to the broadcast of the 2018 People’s Choice Awards this weekend on E! won’t have to work too hard to find advertisers getting in on the event.

Subaru will be active during scenes shot from the awards-show red carpet. EBay will sponsor shots of what’s happening backstage. T-Mobile will sponsor a musical performance by Rita Ora, which will be live-streamed on Snapchat. E! talent will be wearing jewelry pieces from Zales. And TV watches are likely to note the use of a new ad format – NBCU dubs it “picture in picture” – that puts an ad on the screen without completely breaking away from the program.

“For the past year our sales organization has been hyper-committed to making commercials work harder for our advertisers, that required looking past traditional :15s, :30s, and :60 second spots and doing some really unique things,” says Laura Molen,  president, advertising sales and partnerships at NBCUniversal, in an email exchange. “This is about making commercials smarter to keep our audiences engaged, ultimately aiding our advertisers’ messaging.”

NBCUniversal isn’t the first to weave live moments from an advertiser into an awards program, as anyone who has watched MTV’s Video Music Awards over the years can tell you. But its efforts come as broadcast networks are working harder to pitch advertisers on awards programs, which have suffered in the ratings in recent years but remain reliable generators of the large audiences many marketers need to reach to make commercials cost effective.

E!’s broadcast of the People’s Choice Awards is its first. The show, aired on CBS for decades, had been owned and produced by consumer-products giant Procter & Gamble, which would use it to advertise products like laundry detergent Tide. The show has been opened in the past to commercials from rivals. One year, attendants at the ceremony passed out slices of Kraft Foods’ DiGiorno’s Pizza.

In 2018, however, the show is NBCUniversal’s full responsibility. “We’ve seen across the portfolio that live-event programming is incredibly popular with advertisers as it reaches a multigenerational audience that is connected to the program on all platforms,” says Molen.

Some of the event’s biggest advertisers will work to enhance the show, rather than interrupting it completely. Subaru hopes the use of “picture-in-picture advertising” will leave viewers with more access to the celebrities they want to see. The automaker will also have an exclusive sponsorship of an “arrival cam.”

In addition to offering backstage shots, EBay intends to offer two  deals aligned to the program during commercial breaks. “We look forward to offering their viewers instantly shoppable experiences during the People’s Choice Awards, connecting them with inventory on our platform, from the latest trending items to hard-to-find styles,” says Suzy Deering, EBay Americas’ chief marketing officer, in a statement.

Fans will be able to vote on which Zales baubles E! on-air personalities will wear, leading up to a reveal on screen later in the evening.

 (Above, pictured: Actor Johnny Depp from the 2016 People’s Choice Awards)

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content