A Guide to TV Time Slots in the UK

Apr 27, 2023 / Industry Insights / FOTW


TV advertising can be an incredibly effective way for businesses of any size to reach their target audience, but it’s essential to choose the right time slot for your ad to achieve maximum impact. With so many options available, it can be a daunting task for businesses to navigate the world of TV time slots in the UK. However, understanding the different time slots available and their potential impact on your ad’s performance can be a game-changer for your business.

Choosing the right time slot for your ad can be the difference between success and failure. In this guide, we’ll explore the different time slots available and provide you with tips on choosing the best TV time slot for your ad, allowing you to maximise the impact of your advertising budget. So, if you want to ensure your TV ad is seen by the right people at the right time, read on!

What Is a Time Slot?

A time slot refers to a specific period of time during which a TV program or show is aired. Each TV channel has a schedule that is divided into different time slots, and each slot is associated with a particular type of programming. The different time slots have unique names and are designed to cater to a specific audience demographic.

The concept of time slots is crucial for both TV channels and advertisers as it helps them determine when a particular audience is most likely to be watching TV. The time slot of a program can influence its ratings, as viewership tends to vary throughout the day. This is why understanding the different time slots is essential for businesses that want to advertise on TV, as it can help them target their audience more effectively. By identifying the time slot when their target audience is most likely to be watching, businesses can create more effective ad campaigns that reach their intended audience at the right time.

Different Time Slots in the UK

By understanding the different time slots and their associated programming, businesses can choose the right time slot to advertise their products or services to their target audience effectively. In the UK, TV channels use different time slots to schedule their programs throughout the day. Here are some of the most common time slots:


This time slot is typically between 9 am and 5 pm and is aimed at either very young children, stay-at-home parents, and retirees. Programming during this time slot includes educational and children’s shows, lifestyle programs and game shows.

Early Peak

Typically running between 5 pm and 7 pm, this time slot targets commuters and early finishers. Depending on the channel, programming during early peak hours includes news and current affairs programs, game shows and quiz shows.

Prime Time

This is the most coveted and expensive time slot and typically runs between 7 pm and 10 pm, aiming at the largest audience of the day. Programming during this slot typically includes dramas, soap operas, and reality TV shows.

Late Peak

This slot airs between 10 and 11 at night and is aimed at an older demographic. Dramas, documentaries, and news shows fill this time period.


After 11 o’clock, the overnight time slot contains programming geared towards a more youthful adult demographic. Chat shows, music shows, and dramas with adult themes air during this time slot.

How Are Time Slots Booked for Advertising?

TV channels sell advertising slots during their programs. Advertisers book time slots in advance, and rates charged vary depending on the expected viewership and program popularity. To book a slot, advertisers contact the TV channels’ advertising sales team, provide ad materials, and ensure compliance with regulations set by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The cost of booking a time slot varies based on factors such as time of day, day of the week, program popularity, and ad duration. But, the UK has strict guidelines and, as such, TV advertising needs clearance before they’re allowed to air. Generally, TV channels monitor audience response during the ad’s airing and provide feedback to the advertiser. Despite digital advertising’s popularity, TV advertising remains effective in reaching a broad audience and building brand awareness.

What Are the Best and Worst Time Slots for Ads?

TV advertising can be an effective way for businesses to reach their target audience and build brand awareness. However, not all time slots are created equal when it comes to achieving the desired outcome. Some time slots may offer a better audience reach than others, while some may offer a lower potential audience reach or even lead to a negative return on investment.

The best time slots for ads depend on the product or service being advertised and the target audience. For example, daytime slots may be ideal for children’s toys or breakfast cereals, while evening slots are more suitable for alcoholic beverages or luxury items. On the other hand, the worst time slots for ads are typically during overnight or early morning hours, as the audience is significantly smaller. The “best” and “worst” time slots generally depend on what you’re looking to advertise and what the goals of your TV advertising campaign are.

4 Tips on Choosing the Best TV Time Slot for Your Ad

Choosing the right time slot for your TV ad is crucial in ensuring that it reaches your target audience effectively. With so many different time slots available, it can be challenging to know which one is the best fit for your business. 

With that said, here are our top tips on how to choose the best TV time slot for your ad.

1. Know your target audience

Understanding your target audience is crucial in determining the best time slot to advertise your product or service. Consider factors such as their age, gender, income, and lifestyle when selecting a time slot.

2. Consider the cost

The genre of the program can impact the audience’s receptiveness to advertising. For example, advertising a luxury product during a reality TV show may be less effective than advertising it during a drama or news program.

3. Research the competition

TV channels regularly publish viewer ratings, which can help you determine which programs are the most popular and which time slots have the highest viewership. Consider booking time slots during the most popular programs to maximise your audience reach.

4. Test and optimise

Advertising during prime time can be expensive, so it’s important to set a budget and choose a time slot that offers the best value for your money. Consider booking time slots during less popular programs or during non-peak times to save money while still reaching your target audience.

Leave It to the Experts

TV advertising remains a powerful tool for businesses to reach their target audience and build brand awareness. Understanding the different time slots available, the associated programming, and the audience demographics can help businesses choose the best TV time slot for their ad and maximise their return on investment.

However, with so many different factors to consider, it can be challenging to navigate the world of TV advertising alone. That’s where a professional TV ad agency can help. By working with an experienced team of advertising experts, businesses can benefit from strategic planning, creative development, and media buying services that are tailored to their unique needs and goals.

Keen on developing a TV ad campaign to boost your marketing strategy’s goals? Be sure to get in touch with an experienced TV ad agency that’ll work with you to create the perfect TV advertising campaign for your needs.