What E! Channel and the Emmys Taught Me About Content Sponsorship

64th annual primetime emmy pre-show coverageBeing the girl that I am, I tuned into all the pre-shows for the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. (For those of you about to judge me for watching TV and not doing better things with my time, please see picture to the right of our TWO televisions in the living room and back off.) Aside from a new diet plan and tips to alter my closet, I also took away some interesting ideas behind content sponsorship.

The obvious first stop was E! Channel. They don’t just have a pre-show. They have a pre-show for the pre-show. So their coverage runs for 3 hours before the Emmys actually begin. At first I thought it was really interesting that they kept bringing up the “Samsung Galazy Tab 10.1” (like literally, they said those exact words many times), even showing a demonstration while discussing anticipated fashions and notes on the celebrities’ red carpet track record. And then, of course, cutting to a commercial meant the Samsung Tab had a spot every time.

Annoying? Not really. E! has to make big money to be able to designate 3 hours to fashion coverage and they have to designate 3 hours of fashion coverage because people are depending on it. It’s an expensive Catch 22. Even the hosts (Giuliana Rancic in particular) have an emotional tie to the audience, so the more people see what they love on the channel, the better.

It wasn’t until an hour before the Emmys that I realized how genius the E! Channel sponsorship strategy was. That’s when ABC was given their time slot to interview celebrities on the red carpet and talk fashion on their channel (also where the Emmys aired). I had both channels on, ready to flip between at every commercial or when one was featuring a celebrity that the other hadn’t covered yet. And that never actually happened, for two reasons:

  1. Everytime E! Channel went to a commercial break, ABC was on one, too. As a matter of fact, ABC went to commercials almost 2 times as often as E! during their one-hour time slot
  2. Since E! was interviewing for an hour longer, there wasn’t anyone uncovered by the time they went to ABC.

So not only did ABC not have exclusive content for their pre-show, they were too busy making money with commercials to keep anyone’s attention. If ABC wanted to get the most out of the only hour they had for red carpet, why didn’t they incorporate a sponsor to their production the way E! did?

What do you think? Is cutting to commercial more justified, or would you understand if there were brand plugs within the content?


  1. carrieatthill

    I think that as long as they are not obnoxious about it, having in program sponsorship is fine, I’d much rather listen to someone mention the name of the device that they are using than watch a commercial. Just don’t turn your program into a commercial. I’ve seen this a few times on (I refuse to admit publicly that I watch a soap opera) on a “daytime” show, that mid scene, the characters would suddenly have a conversation about feminine care products or  a snack treat. 

    1.  @carrieatthill haha that’s hilarious! You’re so right. There were a couple times that I was worried it was turning into a commercial, but the production didn’t allow it to go on long so it wasn’t bad. Very good point. You can’t go overboard, but you have to represent the client just enough. Glad to see you around again Carrie!

  2. Yay, branded entertainment. Always wins over disruptive traditional ads in my book (provided it’s done well and not too intrusively). Great post!

  3. edebont

    I guess the answer to that would be pretty simple. What is the least  annoying ?  If you get the impression that your watching one big commerical it can be very annoying. If  you don’t get that impression, than it’s done properly.
    PS: I have never seen two televisions in that setup in a living room. That’s… Well, to each his own. 🙂 

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