Thought it was my imagination, but this New York Times article confirms that there are more infomercials popping up on TV, more than ever before. It's true especially in prime-time, on the major networks:
“The economy is the No. 1 focus for everyone, and it affects the advertisers and the rates,” said Pat Boos, the senior vice president for broadcast, acquisition and marketing at Direct Holdings Americas, which licenses the Time Life brand.
“When someone pulls off the air, like a pharmaceutical or medical company or a sports company, the networks sometimes find themselves with last-minute dead space,” she said. “We can come in and say, we’ve got a tape ready, we’ve got the product ready.”
But wait, there's more:
"Ms. Boos said that Time Life was running double the number of prime-time spots that it did a year ago. Networks try to avoid infomercial advertisers, because they pay “a fraction of what general advertising costs,” said Nancy Duitch, the chief executive of Vertical Branding, which runs infomercials for its products like the Steam Buddy and the Nicer Dicer. Although her rates vary, she said she often paid as little as 5 percent of what a general advertiser would.
Infomercials, or direct-response ads, promote a product that can be bought through a Web site or a phone number, often accompanied with blandishments like “but wait, there’s more!”
For networks, the challenge with infomercials is not their quality, but their price: infomercials qualify for much cheaper rates than regular commercials do.
Guess this means we'd all better get used to seeing far fewer ads of shiny cars driving into the sunset, and far more of Billy Mays and his peers.