Empirical Aspects of Advertiser Preferences and Program Content of Network Television
Keith Brown and Roberto Cavazos.
Media Bureau Staff Research Paper 2003-1 (Dec 2003) examines how advertising should be treated in a rational-choice framework. Using unique data from the broadcast networks’ 1995 Fall Season, the authors find that sitcoms attract premia from advertisers, while news and police programs get discounted.
The authors interpret their findings according to two important theoretical treatments of advertising. Possibly because the broadcast networks forgo advertising-unfriendly program content, the cable channel HBO responds with a deliberate counter-programming niche strategy, explicitly airing programming with “darker” and “more difficult” advertising-unfriendly content.