If you've ever stayed up super late in your home watching endless TV you've probably come across infomercials at some point. It's kind of hard not to see an infomercial when watching TV, whether you're watching TV in your home or while waiting for an appointment in the early morning hours. Infomercials are everywhere and have been for a very long time.
Infomercials are basically a long form commercial that are designed to sell you on a certain product like in-home treadmill or monthly delivery service of facial cleansers. No matter what is being sold in any given infomercial you know right from the start that what you're watching is an infomercial. How could you not? Infomercials don't try to hide what they are and are pretty blatant about selling you something from the get go.
You know the score when watching an infomercial, be it one that features a live studio audience watching a window cleaning demonstration (see here for more details), or that has a group of strangers hanging out pretending to be friends raving about a certain product or service that they can't live without. Some infomercials are actually entertaining, albeit in a this-is-so-bad-it's-so-good kind of way that you can't stop watching them. Who remembers the infomercials for the super popular George Foreman grill?
The main purpose of any infomercial is to get you to call the number or visit the website that's displayed on the screen and either find out more information about the product or service being sold or purchase them outright. Infomercials are highly stylized commercials that can run anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, if they are short, or 12 to 30 minutes if they are of the long variety. We don't know about you but an infomercial that is as long as an episode of Parks and Recreation isn't something that we really want to watch, unless it's the only thing on TV.
That's why when they first aired infomercials were shown between the late night/early morning hours of 2 A.M. and 6 A.M. At that point in time anybody watching TV probably didn't really care what they were watching, remember infomercials came before the DVR era, and if an infomercial popped up on their screen they didn't have any motivation to change the channel because there was nothing else on TV. There would be even less incentive to switch from an infomercial on art for women handbooks if a celebrity was pitching the product.
Infomercials are still around but with so many options on TV these days most TV viewers don't think twice about changing the channel the moment an infomercial pops up on the screen. It has to be a really good and must-have product or service being pitched or else that remote will be grabbed and the channel will be quickly changed.