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How should I describe a singular appearance of a commercial in television? Should it be

one “airing” today and seven “airings” in total in this week

or maybe

one “broadcast” today and seven “broadcasts” in total?

Or maybe there is a third, better word?

  • What does a dictionary tell you about "airing" or "broadcast"? Does that answer your question? – AndyT Sep 20 '18 at 9:57
  • According to Merriam-Webster, “broadcast” means “the act of transmitting sound or images by radio or television” or “a single radio or television program”, and “airing” means “exposure to public view or notice” or “a radio or television broadcast”. But it doesn't tell me which one suits better and it doesn't point any other word for that, which is also part of my question. I also don't know which option sounds better, as I'm not a native English speaker. – Anonymouse Sep 20 '18 at 10:01
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From "What Is Spot TV Advertising?" by Neil Kokemuller:

Spot TV advertising refers to the common advertising approach of buying 30 or 60 second ad placements on a particular station. Before an advertiser buys spots, it must produce one or more commercials. Then, the company or its ad agency buys a package of spots through a network or station.

Further (emphasis in the original):

The goal is to prepare a package of spots that appear during the times and on the shows that reach the intended audience.


Based on this, I would call what you see on TV in general the commercial—and call what happens each time it's shown "the airing or broadcast of the spot."

But a more commonly used and understood verb for such an instance—and a word used both in this article and in your own question—is appearance.

So, you could describe it as:

One appearance today and seven appearances in total this week.

  • I think spot refers to the timeslot. It’s a temporal location. – Jim Sep 21 '18 at 13:40
  • @jim I don't think anybody really uses these words in exactly these ways in the first place, so it's an interesting question. "The airing or broadcast of the commercial in the spot"? – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 21 '18 at 13:44
  • “Appearance” is the word I decided to use. So simple, yet I didn't come up with it. Thank you! – Anonymouse Sep 22 '18 at 12:54
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This really depends on local dialect, they're fairly synonymous in the context of of Television, I would pay attention to (if available) the local usage of the word used.. Both are correct and valid uses.

To answer your second part of the question, in the world of TV programming another synonym would be "Showing", ex. M.W. - "the presentation of a motion picture[sic]". I would argue that "Showing" is probably the most correct in definition as it's root word "show" is almost exclusively used to define a TV program, however in practice it's very seldom used.

(Edited for clarification of context)

  • There are many other instances of show. We "make a show" of something (these days, especially of force), we "show something" to others, and we even "show" what we're about. Cf. Jerry Maguire's "Show me the money!" "The show must go on" doesn't refer to TV programs, by the way. – Robusto Sep 20 '18 at 13:14
  • yes, but I was referring in context of Television, when was, unless you're British, the last time you've heard of "Television Program"? It's almost universally refereed to as a "Television Show" – Gartral Sep 21 '18 at 11:50

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