TV Ad Pricing Chart: 'Sunday Night Football,' 'Empire' Are Broadcast's Most Expensive Ad Buys

A Scripted Drama Sits Among Top Two for First Time Since 2007-08

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Fox's 'Empire' is costing advertisers $497,364 on average for 30 seconds, according to Ad Age's annual report on ad prices, making it the second most expensive broadcast show this fall.
Fox's 'Empire' is costing advertisers $497,364 on average for 30 seconds, according to Ad Age's annual report on ad prices, making it the second most expensive broadcast show this fall. Credit: Fox

See the full analysis and context below this chart.

How Much For a 30-Second TV Spot?
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AllABC CBS Fox NBC The CW
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Monday
8 p.m.
23,159 - -
Dancing with the Stars Monday
8 p.m.
115,962 118,606 -2%
Gotham Monday
8 p.m.
151,080 181,575 -17%
Supergirl Monday
8 p.m.
147,933 - -
The Big Bang Theory Monday
8 p.m./
Thursday
8 p.m.
348,300 344,827 1%
The Voice (Monday) Monday
8 p.m.
240,502 274,157 -12%
Life in Pieces Monday
8:30 p.m.
192,379 - -
Minority Report Monday
9 p.m.
120,388 - -
Jane the Virgin Monday
9 p.m.
25,034 23,400 7%
Scorpion Monday
9 p.m.
142,108 148,071 -4%
Castle Monday
10 p.m.
113,149 141,560 -20%
NCIS: Los Angeles Monday
10 p.m.
109,940 127,932 -14%
Blindspot Monday
10 p.m.
209,700 - -
Fresh off the Boat Tuesday
8 p.m.; 8:30p.m.
120,133 - -
The Muppets Tuesday
8 p.m.
131,313 - -
NCIS Tuesday
8 p.m.
151,738 170,948 -11%
Grandfathered Tuesday
8 p.m.
115,136 - -
The Voice (Tuesday) Tuesday
8 p.m.
233,720 253,840 -8%
The Flash Tuesday
8 p.m.
70,687 50,775 39%
The Grinder Tuesday
8:30 p.m.
101,392 - -
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tuesday
9 p.m.
134,707 157,254 -14%
NCIS: New Orleans Tuesday
9 p.m.
125,920 114,843 10%
Scream Queens Tuesday
9 p.m.
147,808 - -
Chicago Med Tuesday
9 p.m.
120,642 - -
iZombie Tuesday
9 p.m.
34,674 - -
Wicked City Tuesday
10 p.m.
93,039 - -
Limitless Tuesday
10 p.m.
113,900 - -
Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris Tuesday
10 p.m.
105,268 - -
The Middle Wednesday
8 p.m.
141,874 133,425 6%
Survivor Wednesday
8 p.m.
125,449 134,358 -7%
Rosewood Wednesday
8 p.m.
88,687 - -
The Mysteries of Laura Wednesday
8 p.m.
70,423 94,750 -26%
Arrow Wednesday
8 p.m.
48,056 47,040 2%
The Goldbergs Wednesday
8:30 p.m.
137,826 110,667 25%
Modern Family Wednesday
9 p.m.
239,993 239,650 0%
Criminal Minds Wednesday
9 p.m.
133,983 135,789 -2%
Empire Wednesday
9 p.m.
497,364 - -
Law & Order: SVU Wednesday
9 p.m.
85,230 89,700 -5%
Supernatural Wednesday
9 p.m.
35,631 40,440 -12%
Black-ish Wednesday
9:30 p.m.
155,990 137,807 13%
Nashville Wednesday
10 p.m.
95,871 97,581 -2%
Chicago P.D. Wednesday
10 p.m.
121,061 122,000 4%
Code Black Wednesday
10 p.m.
129,626 - -
American Idol (Wednesday) Wednesday 147,826 243,200 -39%
Grey's Anatomy Thursday
8 p.m.
157,609 149,523 5%
NFL Thursday Night Football Thursday
8 p.m.
464,625 483,333 -4%
Bones Thursday
8 p.m.
94,681 125,200 -24%
Heroes Reborn Thursday
8 p.m.
126,793 - -
The Vampire Diaries Thursday
8 p.m.
44,924 59,620 -25%
Scandal Thursday
9 p.m.
224,509 217,546 3%
Sleepy Hollow Thursday
9 p.m.
98,253 202,500 -51%
The Blacklist Thursday
9 p.m.
193,793 282,975 -32%
The Originals Thursday
9 p.m.
32,634 32,140 2%
Mom Thursday
9 p.m.
144,660 141,548 2%
Angel from Hell Thursday
9:30 p.m.
127,550 - -
Elementary Thursday
10 p.m.
106,695 125,780 -15%
The Player Thursday
10 p.m.
108,082 - -
How to Get Away with Murder Thursday
10 p.m.
252,934 146,113 73%
Last Man Standing Friday
8 p.m.
64,631 66,767 -3%
The Amazing Race Friday
8 p.m.
65,517 76,375 -14%
MasterChef Junior Friday
8 p.m.
96,300 100,400 -7%
Undateable Friday
8 p.m.
50,844 - -
Reign Friday
8 p.m.
19,327 23,100 -16%
Dr. Ken Friday
8:30 p.m.
63,543 - -
Shark Tank Friday
9 p.m.
99,631 109,878 -9%
Hawaii Five-0 Friday
9 p.m.
77,683 72,788 7%
Grimm Friday
9 p.m.
81,198 118,818 -30%
America's Next Top Model Friday
9 p.m.
17,082 23,900 -29%
20/20 Friday
10 p.m.
65,994 62,917 5%
Dateline Friday
10 p.m.
47,261 48,667 -3%
Blue Bloods Friday
10 p.m.
75,965 79,370 -4%
Crimetime Saturday Saturday
8 p.m.; 9 p.m.
18,471 22,794 -19%
48 Hours Saturday
10 p.m.
33,831 33,500 0%
Saturday Night Live Encores Saturday
10 p.m.
25,242 - -
America's Funniest Home Videos Sunday
7 p.m.
61,567 49,839 24%
60 Minutes Sunday
7 p.m.
111,298 98,280 13%
Once Upon a Time Sunday
8 p.m.
155,596 136,538 14%
Madam Secretary Sunday
8 p.m.
99,587 73,525 35%
The Simpsons Sunday
8 p.m.
186,050 189,933 -2%
Sunday Night Football Sunday
8 p.m.
603,000 627,300 -4%
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Sunday
8:30 p.m.
129,892 150,500 -14%
Blood and Oil Sunday
9 p.m.
127,923 - -
The Good Wife Sunday
9 p.m.
97,428 87,210 12%
Family Guy Sunday
9 p.m.
164,933 158,400 4%
The Last Man on Earth Sunday
9:30 p.m.
131,045 - -
Quantico Sunday
10 p.m.
120,387 - -
CSI: Cyber Sunday
10 p.m.
82,055 98,138 -16%
Bob's Burgers Sunday
7:30 p.m.
74,733 - -
HOW WE GENERATE THE DATA: Ad Age's survey is compiled using data from as many as six agencies. The resulting prices should be viewed as directional indicators and are not the actual price that every advertiser pays for a 30-second spot. The numbers are based on a range of agency estimates that can vary depending on the amount of inventory purchased from a network, the inclusion of any nontraditional advertising such as product placements, and the relationship an advertiser and media-buying agency has with a network. Most TV advertising is typically purchased as part of larger negotiations, not on a one-off basis. These estimates also reflect the prices advertisers and networks agreed on in this year's upfront marketplace. Prices have likely changed for those wishing to buy a spot closer to the air date in the so-called "scatter" market.
Charts by Chen Wu.

While football continues to dominate as the most expensive broadcast programming for advertisers, for the first time in many years a scripted show is giving it a run for its money.

Fox's "Empire" is costing advertisers $497,364 on average for a 30-second commercial, according to Ad Age's annual pricing chart, positioning it as the No. 2 most expensive broadcast show this fall.

The last time a broadcast drama fetched such high prices was during the 2007-08 season, when ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" averaged $419,000.

For many years the costliest scripted program has been CBS's "The Big Bang Theory." This year the sitcom comes in at No. 4, averaging $348,300 for a 30-second spot, on par with last year's price. It moves down one notch, from No. 3 last season.

Of course, football still reigns with NBC's "Sunday Night Football" once again the costliest program on broadcast, averaging $603,000 for 30 seconds of commercial time. CBS's "Thursday Night Football" comes in at No. 3, averaging $464,625, down one spot from last year.

ESPN's "Monday Night Football," it should be noted, costs around $400,000 for commercial time.

Ad Age's survey is compiled using data from as many as six media-buying agencies. (See our 2014 TV ad pricing chart.) The resulting prices should be viewed as directional indicators and are not the actual price that every advertiser pays for a 30-second spot. The numbers are based on a range of agency estimates that can vary depending on the amount of inventory purchased from a network, the inclusion of any nontraditional advertising such as product placements, and the relationship an advertiser and media-buying agency has with a network. Most TV advertising is typically purchased as part of larger negotiations, not on a one-off basis.

These estimates also reflect the prices advertisers and networks agreed on in this year's upfront marketplace. Prices have likely changed for those wishing to buy a spot closer to the air date in the so-called "scatter" market.

In addition to ESPN's "Monday Night Football," there are several cable programs that challenge broadcast as the most expensive programs in which to buy commercial time. AMC's "The Walking Dead" can cost marketers in the high $400,000s to the low $500,000s for a package of spots. In its first season, the prequel, "Fear the Walking Dead," costs about $300,000, and AMC's other new drama, "Better Call Saul," a spin-off of "Breaking Bad," can run advertisers over $200,000.

But it's difficult to compare many cable ad packages to those of broadcast because cable often includes multiple airings and repeats of a show.

Top 10 Priciest Shows on Broadcast For Advertisers
1
Sunday Night Football
$603,000
2
Empire
$497,364
3
Thursday Night Football
$464,625
4
The Big Bang Theory
$348,300
5
How to Get Away with Murder
$252,934
6
The Voice (Monday)
$240,502
7
Modern Family
$239,993
8
The Voice (Tuesday)
$233,720
9
Scandal
$224,509
10
Blindspot
$209,700

ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder" is a newcomer to the top 10, coming in at No. 5 and averaging $252,934. The Shonda Rhimes drama, part of the alphabet network's Thursday night "TGIT" lineup, is also the biggest price gainer of the year, rising 73% from its freshman season.

Other noteworthy gainers include ABC's "The Goldbergs," which increased 25% to $137,826; The CW's "The Flash," up 39% to $70,687 and CBS's "Madam Secretary," which grew 35% to $99,587.

NBC's "The Voice" on Monday nights comes in at No. 6, down one spot from last season, averaging $240,502. The results show on Tuesday night is No. 8, down two spots, and averaging $233,720 for a 30-second spot.

ABC's critically acclaimed "Modern Family" remained steady at No. 7, averaging $239,993, as did "Scandal," which stayed at No. 9 and averages $224,509 for a 30-second spot.

Rounding out the top 10 is NBC's newcomer, "Blindspot," averaging $209,700 for a 30-second spot. This makes it the most expensive new show of the season.

"Blindspot" premiered to 10.6 million viewers earlier in the week, significantly topping the premiere of "State of Affairs," which appeared in the same time slot last year. "State of Affairs" was actually the most expensive new show of last season at $219,188, but it didn't even make it to a second season.

While "Blindspot" joins the top 10 list, NBC's "The Blacklist" falls off after it came in at No. 4 last year. The show is one of the biggest decliners of the season, with the average cost falling 40% to $102,720.

Other notable decliners include Fox's "Sleepy Hollow," which came in the top 10 last year. Its average cost plunged 51% to $98,253. NBC's "The Mysteries of Laura" fell 26% averaging $70,423; Fox's Gotham" declined 21% to $143,295; and The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" dropped 25% to $44,924.

Among returning broadcast shows, 13 have seen the cost for ad time increase, while another 23 have seen decreases and 22 have remained relatively steady.

Photos courtesy of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW.

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