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Late Fringe Time – How to Capture Night Owl Audiences

Let’s talk about late fringe time. What is it? Or, perhaps a better question: When is it and why should I consider it for advertising my brand?

Broadcasters divide the broadcast day into parts, a practice known as dayparting. Fringe time is the daypart before and after television prime time.

What do we consider prime time? It’s generally understood (at least in the United States) to be the hours between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. or 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (depending on time zone).

Television hours before prime time (generally between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) are called early fringe. Television hours after prime time (generally between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.) are called late fringe.

What is Late Fringe Time?

Late fringe time may not be an obvious daypart to consider when marketing your brand, but can be an opportunity in many ways. Airing during late fringe time allows advertisers and their agencies to optimize buys outside of the pricier prime time hours.

If you’ve ever flipped through local broadcast channels late at night, you may have come across some interesting programming. Shows with unusual titles and more niche subject matter airing during this time may not scream mainstream.

And yet these shows are often among the highest-rated programs in their time slot. That’s because they’re targeted at what’s known as the “late fringe” demographic: people who are up late at night.

Marketers interested in advertising their products and/or services across traditional linear television airwaves may not even know their target audience may be part of this demographic and should familiarize themselves with fringe time viewership.


What are the advantages and disadvantages of fringe time marketing as compared to prime time? And can agencies help grow a client’s business with marketing strategies that target late fringe time?

Late fringe time can be considered marketing gold for certain advertisers. In fact, this time slot is sometimes considered to be the best time for marketing because people are more likely to be home and available to attentively watch television.Viewers are often settling down for the night; and many are watching television in bed, which may mean they are also more engaged. 

Late fringe time is also considered by many to be the best time for marketing brands poised for growth because it can be a less expensive buy than other time slots.

In many markets, this time slot is filled with repeat episodes of popular shows or more niche programming with generally lower viewership than prime time.

Late Fringe Time Mindset for Marketing 

Marketers often choose to air during late fringe time because of the potential to reach a captive audience. Later at night, people are usually less likely to be multitasking while watching TV (i.e., eating dinner, getting kids ready for bed, wrapping up their work day). That means they’re more likely to pay attention to the commercials that air during this time.

And since people are already in a relaxed state of mind late at night, they may be more receptive to marketing and new brand messaging. This could builds not only customer interest but can be the first step toward lifelong engagement and brand loyalty.

It’s also a way to market to those potential customers who are night owls or who work outside of the traditional nine-to-five workday, especially if they have been identified in your target audience.

Advertisers can also target specific demographics, such as students or young adults.

Brands can also use other types of marketing messages designed for late-night viewing, such as infomercials or direct-response television ads.


Determining if a brand can benefit from late fringe time advertising should be a data-based decision.

Test and learn plans can deliver actionable insights into this time slot for each brand. Marketers must first identify clear campaign KPIs such as impressions, conversions or sales. Partnering with a marketing measurement leader such as Leavened can help digest data quickly, accurately and efficiently to make informed investments.

Of course, any successful campaign should be able to deliver a return on investment. Ultimately, the success of a late fringe time marketing campaign will be determined by its ability to meet a client’s specific goals and objectives that were determined at the outset of the campaign.

Leavened and Late Fringe Time

In summary, if your target audience potentially falls into the demographic of those who watch TV during late fringe time, then you should definitely explore targeting your ad spend directly at the late-night TV viewers.


  • Increased Engagement. People who are watching TV during late fringe are generally more engaged with the content than those who are watching during prime time. This means that they’re more likely to remember your ad and take action on it.
  • Potentially Higher ROI. The cost of a late fringe time ad spend may be less than during prime time, depending on a number of factors, including the local TV market. It’s often possible to see a higher return on investment (ROI) when running ads during late fringe time.
  • Higher Visibility. In certain markets, late fringe time is a valuable time slot for marketers because there are fewer commercials airing in the first place. This means that your ad will have a better chance of being seen by potential customers. Moreover, as mentioned above, people who are up late at night are often more receptive to marketing messages than those who are watching TV during the day.
  • Ability to Take Advantage of Specific Buying Habits. People who are up late at night often have different buying habits than those who watch TV during the day. For example, they may be more likely to make impulse purchases or purchase items that they wouldn’t normally buy during the daytime hours. 

Late fringe time is a valuable but often overlooked time slot for marketers, and not all measurement solutions can provide performance data down to specific dayparts. 

Interested in seeing if your brand performs well during this daypart? Contact us today to learn more.