Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How much sex in network television commercials?

A recent analysis revealed that 17% of prime-time commercials airing on the five major U.S. networks contained some form of sexual information (images/words). However, sex was the primary theme only in a little over 9% of the spots. The analysis consisted of one week (M-F) during the prime-time time slot (8-11 PM, EST) in May 2007.

Over 2,400 commercials were coded for the presence and nature of sexual content. Network promos, which often contain a higher proportion of sexual information, were not included in the sample.

Of the five major networks, the CW network, with a healthy lineup of teen-oriented programming, contained the highest proportion of sex-primary commercials. For example, 15% of commercials on CW contained sexual themes compared to 12% on NBC, 11% on ABC, 10% on Fox, and 7% on CBS. Coders employed standard measures of sexual content used in previous analyses.

Overall, the findings provide an accurate snapshot of the prevalence and nature of sexual content in network TV advertising.

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