Sunday night, the FOX broadcast network aired a highly promoted Simpsons/Family Guy crossover episode, and the results for the network are mixed, at best. During the program, FOX aired a tasteless and inappropriate joke about rape, that the PTC warned parents and advertisers about last week.
While that is certainly disappointing, a closer look at the situation yields some surprisingly positive results:
Of the 16 regular advertisers on the Simpsons and Family Guy that the PTC contacted prior to this episode’s airing, only Apple, Microsoft and YUM! Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC) appeared on the latest Family Guy episode.
Let’s repeat that: only 3 of the 16 regular advertisers of either show sponsored this particular episode after being warned of the rape joke it contained!
There were also 8 movie/network promos, one website ad, one video game ad, and one New York City commercial, totaling 11 out of the 25 commercial spots that were shown. Typically, those types of non-top tier advertisers are not paying what’s called the “rate card” rate for advertising slots on any given show. Consequently, it’s a safe bet that FOX did not receive the type of advertising revenue from the program that it would typically have expected.
While the episode drew an increased audience relative to previous episodes, it also benefited from the best lead-in on television: NFL football, which is the most-watched programming on TV. FOX viewers who watched NFL games on Sunday were treated to promotional spots during commercial breaks throughout the afternoon which no doubt helped increase viewership later in the evening.
However, while the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover episode averaged 8.45 million viewers, it wasn’t even the most-watched crossover episode of the evening. Over on ABC, the Disney-owned network aired a much anticipated season premiere of Once Upon A Time which featured the introduction of characters from the smash-hit animated film, Frozen. ABC averaged 10.2 million viewers for that family-oriented crossover episode.
In other words, despite all the endless hype, a family-oriented crossover show featuring Disney characters averaged nearly 2 million more viewers than a program known to contain a rape joke and other problematic material.
Don’t let Hollywood tell you that family fare doesn’t cut it.