Here’s Why Wednesday Might Be the Best Night for TV Advertising

Sunday night has the largest TV audience, but the lowest ROI

Wednesday shows like Fox's Empire, ABC's The Goldbergs and CBS' Survivor could give an ROI boost to advertisers.
Chuck Hodes/Fox

Audiences watch TV on Sundays more than any night of the week, but Wednesday offers the best return on investment for TV advertisers.

Thanks to a combination of ad pricing, better consumer attention and quality of programming, Wednesday night delivers the highest ROI for TV advertising, according to analysis from attribution analytics company C3 Metrics.

That’s followed closely by Thursday, but then ROI declines for the rest of the week.

Jeff Greenfield, COO, C3 Metrics, said Wednesday ends up as No. 1 in ROI for several reasons. TV ad inventory is priced lower on Wednesday night than Sunday night, and the quality of TV shows is higher on Wednesday and Thursday than Monday and Tuesday, which also leads to higher audience engagement and makes them less likely to focus on smartphones and tablets while the TV is on.

Wednesday is the “sweet spot” for consumer attention, said C3 Metrics, given that on Mondays people are busy with family chores and activities as they return to work and school. But as the week goes on they finish their errands, and consumers begin to focus more on leisure time. Then, when Thursday night arrives, people are starting to make their weekend plans.

C3 Metrics said Thursday night is the best ROI performer for theatrical advertising, as has been the case for years.

Upfront negotiations are done, but as the new TV season kicks off next month, buyers looking for an ROI boost might want to keep their eye on the broadcasters’ Wednesday lineups as they navigate the scatter market.

Wednesday shows this fall include Empire and Star on Fox and NBC’s all-Chicago block of dramas (Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.). CBS will bring back Survivor, SEAL Team and Criminal Minds, and ABC will air a comedy block with The Goldbergs, American Housewife, Modern Family and new sitcom Single Parents, leading into new drama A Million Little Things.

The CW will broadcast Riverdale and new drama All American.

Thursdays, which are No. 2 in ROI, include some of the strongest lineups for each network. Fox has Thursday Night Football, while ABC brings back its TGIT lineup (Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 and How to Get Away With Murder). CBS will air the 12th and now final season of The Big Bang Theory, followed by Big Bang prequel Young Sheldon, Mom, its revival of Murphy Brown and drama SWAT.

NBC counters with Superstore, The Good Place, Will & Grace, new comedy I Feel Bad and drama Law & Order: SVU. The CW will air Supernatural and new drama Legacies, a spinoff of The Originals.

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