Sunday’s Family Guy was supposed to be the animated comedy’s first episode in 15 years to air with limited commercial interruptions. Instead, the telecast will contain no ad breaks at all.
PlayStation will be the sole sponsor for Sunday’s extended episode of the Fox series. Before and after the episode, Fox will air a 60-second spot, called “Arrow,” to promote God of War, the latest installment in PlayStation’s mythology-based franchise, which is set to debut April 20 exclusively on the platform.
Because of the PlayStation sponsorship, the Family Guy episode will now air completely uninterrupted for the first time. Fox will air a 10-second co-branded bumper, also featuring PlayStation, prior to the first “Arrow” ad.
“This format, verses buying a 30-second ad unit, is appealing as it creates an event feel and offers a more unique approach on how we reach existing and new fans,” said Asad Qizilbash, vp of marketing for PlayStation. “The more we are able to eventize media buys, the bigger impact we see to present PlayStation as a leader in gaming content.”
PlayStation saw a big audience overlap between Family Guy viewers and action game fans, and Qizilbash noted that Sunday’s episode fell within its “critical” six-week launch window for God of War.
“When we evaluate media partner opportunities, we look at three things: the right audience alignment, the right time—proximity to launch—and strength and reach of our distinguished partners. Family Guy checked all the boxes,” said Qizilbash.
In Sunday’s Family Guy episode, “Send in Stewie, Please,” baby Stewie (voiced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane) is sent to the office of his school’s child psychologist (voiced by Sir Ian McKellen) after pushing a classmate, and experiences several emotional revelations about himself.
Fox had announced in January that a March episode of Family Guy would air with fewer advertising pods. At the time, the show’s producers told Adweek in January that the idea for the reduced ad load came about because the episode was running long, and Fox decided that limited commercial interruption would be an ideal solution to accommodate its longer run time.
“I will give them credit, because they said, ‘We’re going to find a sponsor,’ and then they said, ‘Even if we don’t, we’re going to air it without interruption,’” said executive producer and co-showrunner Rich Appel.
Over the past two years, a growing number of networks have looked to present a less cluttered advertising environment to compete with ad-free competitors like Netflix and HBO. In December, truTV announced it will transition its entire schedule to the limited-commercial-interruption (LCI) format.
When Spike rebranded as Paramount Network in January, the network cut its ad load for its original scripted shows by 30 percent to “make the experience more pleasurable” for viewers, said Paramount Network president Kevin Kay. Two weeks ago, NBCUniversal announced audiences will see 10 percent fewer ads during all prime-time original shows across its entire portfolio, beginning this fall.