I was watching an animated movie on TV one night (close to midnight), and when it finished a commercial break, but before it returned to the movie, it would air a parental advisory. So we know it's definitely not for children, but the commercials are obviously meant for children (advertisements for toys, etc.).

Can anyone provide insight into why a network would run commercials meant for children late at night during what is supposed to be a mature rated movie?

My assumption is that when a company buys commercial space, the network promises to run the commercial a set number of times, so the network just sets it up in a loop.

2 Answers 2


Toys are intended for children, but children don't buy toys. Their parents do. With the holidays coming up, you're going to see more ads targeted towards parents who are looking for gift ideas for their children.

Though commercials themselves are expensive to make, so the most optimal solution would be to show the same commercial at night that you'd show during the day during children's programming.

  • 2
    You also get to appeal to adults in a stage of "arrested development" I swear I know adults that are much more excited about Lego sets than any child I've ever seen :)
    – m1gp0z
    Nov 27, 2018 at 14:42
  • 1
    @m1gp0z You don't know me!
    – T.J.L.
    Dec 19, 2018 at 21:53

Commercial space is purchased for specific programs. You pay a premium to air a commercial during a prime time program, or a program with a large Nielsen rating. For instance, last I knew it cost $2M+ to air a commercial during the Super Bowl, and $500K+ to run one during Friends (when it was still making new episodes). So, commercials don't just randomly air in a loop, they're programmed to air at specific times.

The commercials in question were meant for post-prime time airing, thus targeted at the parents purchasing the toys for children.

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