It seems that in some places "TV spot" and "commercial" are used interchangeably as a television advertisement.

Are they both equally used? I think that "TV spot", could be understood as a short news broadcasting, so there is some room for confusion. And this site "Tv spots and commercials", so I'm not sure if it's a redundancy or there is some technical difference.

  • To have a TV spot is just a vague figurative usage meaning appear [briefly] on TV - possibly as, or repeatedly within some regular scheduled broadcast, but also possibly as a "one-off" screening. There's usually some element of "desired publicity" in the usage, but it could be anything from an obviously paid-for advertisement, to an instance of "product placement", to simply appearing in a local news broadcast. People in the advertising business would probably only use it for things they get paid to produce or arrange to be aired, but that's "domain-specific" usage. Jul 27, 2014 at 15:08

3 Answers 3


"Spot" has more of a jargony feel. TV advertisers use it as a term of art to mean a paid commercial.

My feeling is that the average American wouldn't use "spot" in this kind of sense/context in most cases.

  • 1
    I would add that "spot" doesn't necessarily mean that they're trying to sell you something - it could refer to public service announcements, etc, whereas "commercial" is exactly that.
    – mc01
    Jul 28, 2014 at 22:54
  • 1
    @mc01 true, but I would probably use "commercial" to refer to cause marketing & PSAs anyway, even though it isn't really related to commerce.
    – Tiercelet
    Jul 29, 2014 at 19:45

The term "TV Spot" is most often used to distinguish short, focused promotional materials for upcoming movies or televised events. These are different from long form commercials that can last anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes, and are more like 30 seconds or less. For example, the upcoming Avengers film will have a long preview that showcases the plot and action, whereas they might have a TV spot that focuses solely on Iron Man, and only features a few lines of dialog.


I think that Spots are generally used to transmit a message and move the people to act out immediately through building awareness.For instance, here in Peru there are excellent Spots such as:Maestro and Oncosalud.They are really touching, I mean, overwhelming.They move the audience.Not only they do have an economical interest, but a humanistic or social one as well.Sorry,but that is what I have observed and read.Might be wrong or right but that is my humble contribution.Thank you.

  • While it's true that some "spots" can be very emotional and touching, this answer really needs some kind of supporting evidence to show that such vignettes are more likely to be called spots (as opposed to ads, infomercials, or something else).
    – J.R.
    Jul 16, 2016 at 22:39

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