New Year, New Commercial Formats on ABC Telecast

While it was ringing in the New Year, ABC was also trying out new commercial formats that it expects will be a part of upcoming live events, including its Oscar broadcast.

ABC said Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest had a record number of sponsors. They included Allstate, Pepsi, Planet Fitness and Uber.

In addition to traditional spots, for the first time the broadcast featured a branded on-screen countdown clock. The network also used a split screen that allowed viewers to keep track of what was happening in frigid Times Square live while a commercial rolled. Advertisers participating in the split screen included Mercedes-Benz, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, Victoria’s Secret and Verizon.

The new commercial formats come at a time when declining ratings—and increased viewing of commercial-free services like Netflix—have networks looking at ways to improve the viewer experience. During NFL games this year, most networks experimented with shorter ads and a split screen. Many networks are also looking for ways to make advertising less intrusive, including reducing the commercial load in their programming.

RELATED: Networks Experimenting With Spots During NFL Games

ABC’s New Year’s countdown clock was sponsored by Pepsi and Uber. From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. the clock promoted Pepsi Zero Sugar. From 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., the clock featured Uber’s logo and sober driving messages such as “If you drink, don’t drive” and “Be a #Designated Rider.

Uber also had three in-show segments with co-host Jenny McCarthy promoting the Designated Rider campaign.

Planet Fitness also had an in-show integration during the broadcast. It presented its “Be Free Awards on air. McCarthy gave the award to Black-ish and Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi in Times Square and Modern Family’s Ariel Winter got her prize from Ciara at the Hollywood Party in Los Angeles.

Related: Live Commercial for 'Showman' Film Planned During Fox's 'Christmas Story'

Also during the broadcast, the bands Walk the Moon and Imagine Dragons performed live from the Allstate Fan Fest in New Orleans. An in-show segment showed member of Imagine Dragons at Allstate’s All Hand In charity event where they helped refurbish a youth center with volunteers and former football star Tim Tebow, now an announcer for ESPN.

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is a tremendous live event for not only ABC, but for viewers across the country and our advertisers,” said Debra O’Connell, executive VP, ad sales and marketing for Disney|ABC.

“It’s been amazing to watch the evolution of the broadcast over the years, and we were thrilled to introduce two new elements to the show, she said.

“Advertisers are drawn to the show because of its vibrant appeal and captivated audience – no matter where viewers are – whether at home or out, they tune in. It’s one of the biggest shows of the year and our record-breaking ratings proved that, O’Connell said.

Sunday’s New Year’s show drew 25.6 million viewers and an 8.2 rating among adults 18 to 49 during its first late-night segment (11:30 p.m. till 12:32 a.m.). It was up 26% in the demo and had its biggest audience since 1991, which is how far back Nielsen’s electronic data base goes.

The show also set records in primetime with 10.5 million viewers and a 3.0 rating and 12 share in the demo.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.