Annual Commercial Pricing Chart

'American Idol,' NFL Duke it out for Priciest TV Spot

If This Year's Tally Teaches us Anything, It's That Shows With More Live Viewership Command an Ad Premium

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Most Popular
What a spot costs
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
7 P.M. (ET) America's Funniest Home Videos
$79,742
60 Minutes
$122,075
Football Night in America
$92,900
Cleveland Show
$143,550
8 P.M. (ET) Once Upon A Time
$134,217
Secret Millionaire
$141,600
The Amazing Race
$124,091
Sunday Night Football
$512,367
The Apprentice
$145,500
The Simpsons
$254,260
Allen Gregory
$167,880
Napoleon Dynamite
$120,500
Bob's Burgers
$150,600
9 P.M. (ET) Desperate Housewives
$149,556
The Good Wife
$137,457
Family Guy
$264,912
American Dad
$150,194
Cleveland Show
$156,550
10 P.M. (ET) Pan Am
$131,892
CSI Miami
$98,027
The Firm $104,500
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) Dancing With the Stars
$233,482
The Bachelor
$177,150
How I Met Your Mother
$168,829
2 Broke Girls
$166,678
The Sing-Off
$81,541
The Voice
$206,500
Terra Nova
$167,854
House
$236,500
Gossip Girl
$50,304
9 P.M. (ET) Two and a Half Men
$252,418
Mike & Molly
$196,497
Awake
$117,550
House
$184,051
Alcatraz
$160,000
Hart of Dixie
$47,406
10 P.M. (ET) Castle
$121,914
Hawaii Five-0
$130,514
Playboy Club (cancelled)
$74,273
Smash $154,000
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) Last Man Standing
$116,838
Man Up
$122,177
NCIS
$154,646
The Biggest Loser
$106,153
Glee
$267,141
90210
$38,576
9 P.M. (ET) Dancing with the Stars (results show)
$216,703
Apartment
$98,100
Cougar Town
$103,900
NCIS: Los Angeles
$133,204
New Girl
$125,488
Raising Hope
$121,449
Ringer
$47,741
10 P.M. (ET) Body of Proof
$122,790
Unforgettable
$131,815
Parenthood
$95,650
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) The Middle
$127,480
Suburgatory
$124,718
Survivor
$144,478
Up All Night
$82,617
Free Agents (cancelled)
$78,010
The X-Factor
$320,669
American Idol
$502,900
H8R (cancelled)
$34,743
9 P.M. (ET) Modern Family
$249,388
Happy Endings
$129,607
Criminal Minds
$137,347
Harry's Law
$64,017
Mobbed
$118,567
Hate My Teenage Daughter
$151,300
America's Next Top Model
$61,315
10 P.M. (ET) Revenge
$119,382
Missing
$111,500
The River
$153,500
CSI
$135,350
L&O: SVU
$104,528
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) Charlie's Angels (cancelled)
$69,640
Big Bang Theory
$198,348
How To Be A Gentleman (cancelled)
$128,147
Community
$93,533
Parks and Recreation
$116,883
The X-Factor Results
$283,034
American Idol Results
$468,100
Vampire Diaries
$54,016
9 P.M. (ET) Grey 's Anatomy
$203,078
Person of Interest
$174,574
The Office
$178,840
Whitney
$120,604
30 Rock
$133,000
Bones
$145,721
The Finder
$152,100
The Secret Circle
$45,970
10 P.M. (ET) Private Practice
$129,266
Scandal
$92,800
The Mentalist
$154,781
Prime Suspect
$93,092
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) Extreme Makeover
$73,039
A Gifted Man
$63,827
Chuck
$50,441
Kitchen Nightmares
$61,150
Nikita
$29,374
9 P.M. (ET) Shark Tank
$67,227
CSI NY
$71,909
Grimm
$55,358
Fringe
$57,589
Supernatural
$32,477
10 P.M. (ET) 20/20
$67,384
Blue Bloods
$76,133
Dateline
$39,610
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) College Football
$85,200
Movies (post football)
$35,006
Rules of Engagement (moved to Thursday)
$40,760
Comedytime Saturday
$32,460
Encores
$19,980
Cops
$43,555
Cops
$49,735
9 P.M. (ET) Crimetime Saturday
$29,673
Encores
$23,119
Various repeats/America's Most Wanted specials
$47,350
10 P.M. (ET) 48 Hours Mystery
$43,400
Encores
$26,700

Watch out, Steven Tyler. The Green Bay Packers are rushing you.

Long TV's most expensive program for advertisers, "American Idol" is now neck-and-neck with NBC's "Sunday Night Football" as the costliest prime-time show on this year's schedule, according to Advertising Age's annual survey of the costs of running a 30-second commercial in prime time. The average cost of running a 30-second ad in "Idol" runs between $468,100 and $502,900, according to the Ad Age survey, while the average cost of a 30-second ad in NBC's much-watched football contest is $512,367.

While that might sound as if football has trounced the veteran Fox singing program, the tally is relative since "Idol"'s prices tend to go up as the show reaches its finale. Ad Age 's survey, compiled using data from as many as six different media-buying agencies and other sources, found that some spots in "Idol" were going for as much as $640,000.

One thing is for sure: The results continue to bolster the notion that the shows most in demand are those viewers tend to watch live, rather than play back days later with a DVR or via video-on-demand. When millions of viewers tune in live, marketers pay a premium.

Grey 's Anatomy commands $203,078 for a 30-second spot, a big drop from 2007-2008.
Grey 's Anatomy commands $203,078 for a 30-second spot, a big drop from 2007-2008. Credit: Ron Tom/ABC

Ad Age 's pricing survey suggests a shakeup is taking place in the power of certain TV programs. Heading into the 2007-2008 TV season, ABC's "Grey 's Anatomy" commanded an average price of $419,000 for a 30-second spot, making it the most expensive program of the fall. Today, the show has fallen off the top 10 most-expensive programs, commanding just $203,078. The same holds true for the Disney network's "Desperate Housewives," which led the pack in 2006 by commanding an average price of $394,000. The program, in its last season, has tumbled, this season commanding an average cost of just $149,556, according to Ad Age 's survey. Also missing from the top 10: NBC's "The Office" and Fox's "House."

Fox's "X Factor" is the most expensive new program for advertisers, commanding an average of $320,000 for a 30-second spot for its Wednesday-night run. The Thursday-night episode of the series brings in an average of $283,034 for 30 seconds. The shows represent the fourth- and fifth-most expensive programs in prime time overall.

The list of the 10 most expensive 30-second spots also includes Fox's "Glee," which commands an average of $267,141; "Family Guy," which notches an average cost of $264,912; and "The Simpsons," which costs an average of $254,260; CBS's "Two and a Half Men," which brings in an average of $252,418; and ABC's "Modern Family," which lures an average of $249,388 per 30-second commercial.

Some programs are rising in advertisers' eyes. In last year's survey, "Sunday Night Football" commanded an average of around $415,000, for example. "Two and A Half Men" last year took in an average of $206,722; a CBS decision to sell the first two weeks featuring new lead Ashton Kutcher as an event of sorts may have contributed to the price hike. And "Modern Family" last year commanded just $193,635. Even the venerable "Idol" has seen its prices tick upwards. Last year, the show commanded between $400,546 and $467,617.

The prices should be taken as directional indicators, not hard negotiating figures. Ad Age 's numbers are based on a range of agency estimates that can vary depending on the amount of inventory purchased from a particular network and the relationship an advertiser has with a specific media outlet. What's more, prices may have changed. Ad Age 's numbers are based on what advertisers paid for ad time during this year's upfront market, when marketers commit to advertising weeks in advance in exchange for locking price guarantees. The market for "scatter" advertising, or ads purchased closer to air date, has been robust, so prices are likely to have risen. Additionally, the TV networks have already canceled several programs, which will likely alter the prime-time grid.

Sunday, filled with football and male-skewing animated programs on Fox, remains the most expensive night on TV for marketers, as it has for several years. Thursday, once the dominant night, continued its run in second place.

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