More stunning is the $1.2 million price tag Fox has put on the season finale of its popular "American Idol," a show that-unlike "Everybody Loves Raymond"-is not signing off for good.
While "Raymond" emerged as the ad-price champion for the season, its May 16 goodbye won't be as lucrative as that of NBC's "Friends." Advertisers paid up to $2.3 million per spot for the farewell episode of that long-running series last year.
The "American Idol" finale price represents a big leap from the estimated $750,000 to $850,000 the network commanded for a 30-second spot in last year's "Idol" finale.
The two-hour "Idol" decision show May 25 will air opposite tough competition in ABC's season finale of plane-wreck thriller "Lost," which will also run two hours. That's a scheduling nightmare for fans of both shows, but good news for TiVo-which will no doubt be called upon to reveal who watched what live.
THE BIG FOUR
For clients who plan their media schedules around season send-offs, the pickings are rich this year. In addition to the above trio, buyers will flock to Wisteria Lane, home of ABC's "Desperate Housewives." Its season finale could go for as much as $650,000 per 30-second spot.
Beyond the final four, TV executives struggled to think of other season-enders generating as much interest. NBC's riveting "West Wing" finale has already played out. Notably absent from the list is the last-ever "Star Trek: Enterprise," playing on Viacom's UPN May 13. The show's audience has largely fallen off to around 2.9 million viewers, leading to its cancellation.
Geoff Robison, senior VP-national TV for Los Angeles-based Palisades Media Group, said that clients such as movie studios, are "looking for immediacy and fast reach, and finales are good for them," even though the pricing isn't always a good value. Mr. Robison, who buys for Electronic Arts and Disney Co.'s Miramax, said he is still in negotiations and hasn't committed to any finales.
Kris Magel, senior VP-group director of Optimedia Group, part of Publicis Groupe, has booked clients into finales this year, but declined to name them. He said "Raymond" is a good fit for advertisers looking to make an emotional connection. That finale is believed to be sold out, but time is said to be available still on the others.
"American Idol" typically charges just $750,000 per 30 seconds