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TV Ad Pricing Chart: A Show in Its 13th Season Returns to the Top 10 Most Expensive Buys

One of broadcast TV's most expensive shows for advertisers during the 2016-17 season is a series that has been on the air for more than a decade.

ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" is back in the top 10 on Ad Age's annual pricing chart for the first time since 2010.

The Shonda Rhimes medical drama cost buyers in this summer's upfront negotiations an average of $193,210 for a 30-second spot, up 23% from last season and enough to make it broadcast's 10th costliest show for advertisers. It is a meaningful improvement for the series, which was one of the biggest price decliners last year.

The show experienced a ratings renaissance of sorts last season, ending last season as ABC's No. 1 series and the No. 2 returning broadcast drama in the all-important 18-to-49 demographic.

Still, "Grey's" is nowhere close to the $400,000-plus it commanded in the 2007-08 season when it was the most expensive program on TV. And it is just one-third the cost of this year's costliest program -- NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

More analysis and the top 10 list follow the chart below.

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AllABC CBS Fox NBC The CW
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
5 Supergirl 108Monday
8 p.m.
54,667 -100NA -100NA
1 Dancing with the Stars 108Monday
8 p.m.
125,260 115,962 8%
3 Gotham 108Monday
8 p.m.
130,674 151,080 -14%
2 The Big Bang Theory 108Monday
8 p.m./
Thursday
8 p.m.
289,136 348,300 -17%
2 Kevin Can Wait 108Monday
8 p.m./
8:30 p.m.
160,635 -100NA -100NA
4 The Voice (Monday) 108Monday
8 p.m.
214,079 240,502 -11%
2 Man With A Plan 109Monday
8:30 p.m.
126,490 -100NA -100NA
5 Jane the Virgin 110Monday
9 p.m.
25,075 25,034 0.2%
2 2 Broke Girls 110Monday
9 p.m.
138,203 148,071 -7%
3 Lucifer 110Monday
9 p.m.
126,798 -100NA -100NA
2 The Odd Couple 111Monday
9:30 p.m.
108,438 127,932 -15%
4 Timeless 112Monday
10 p.m.
188,046 -100NA -100NA
1 Conviction 112Monday
10 p.m.
109,662 -100NA -100NA
2 Scorpion 112Monday
10 p.m.
109,988 142,108 -23%
1 The Middle 208Tuesday
8 p.m.
124,787 141,874 -12%
2 NCIS 208Tuesday
8 p.m.
152,942 151,738 1%
4 The Voice (Tuesday) 208Tuesday
8 p.m.
202,600 233,720 -13%
5 The Flash 208Tuesday
8 p.m.
60,660 70,687 -14%
3 Brooklyn Nine-Nine 208Tuesday
8 p.m.
100,822 129,892 -22%
3 New Girl 208Tuesday
8 p.m./
8:30 p.m.
135,100 -100NA -100NA
1 American Housewife 209Tuesday
8:30 p.m.
94,615 -100NA -100NA
1 Fresh off the Boat 210Tuesday
9 p.m.
101,386 120,133 -16%
2 Bull 210Tuesday
9 p.m.
136,102 -100NA -100NA
3 Scream Queens 210Tuesday
9 p.m.
122,219 147,808 -17%
4 This Is Us 210Tuesday
9 p.m.
272,000 -100NA -100NA
5 No Tomorrow 210Tuesday
9 p.m.
28,004 -100NA -100NA
1 The Real O'Neals 211Tuesday
9:30 p.m.
71,869 -100NA -100NA
4 Chicago Fire 212Tuesday
10 p.m.
164,133 -100NA -100NA
1 Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 212Tuesday
10 p.m.
107,904 134,707 -20%
2 NCIS: New Orleans 212Tuesday
10 p.m.
97,033 125,920 -23%
4 Blindspot 308Wednesday
8 p.m.
134,629 209,700 -36%
2 Survivor 308Wednesday
8 p.m.
128,723 125,449 3%
3 Lethal Weapon 308Wednesday
8 p.m.
172,429 -100NA -100NA
5 Arrow 308Wednesday
8 p.m.
40,368 48,056 -16%
1 The Goldbergs 308Wednesday
8 p.m.
144,210 137,826 5%
1 Speechless 309Wednesday
8:30 p.m.
136,859 -100NA -100NA
1 Modern Family 310Wednesday
9 p.m.
224,571 239,993 -6%
2 Criminal Minds 310Wednesday
9 p.m.
127,179 133,983 -5%
3 Empire 310Wednesday
9 p.m.
437,100 497,364 -12%
4 Law & Order: SVU 310Wednesday
9 p.m.
124,452 85,230 46%
5 Frequency 310Wednesday
9 p.m.
31,858 -100NA -100NA
1 Black-ish 311Wednesday
9:30 p.m.
139,483 155,990 -11%
4 Chicago P.D. 312Wednesday
10 p.m.
119,088 121,061 -2%
2 Code Black 312Wednesday
10 p.m.
103,300 129,626 -20%
1 Designated Survivor 312Wednesday
10 p.m.
162,616 -100NA -100NA
1 Grey's Anatomy 408Thursday
8 p.m.
193,210 157,609 23%
2 NFL Thursday Night Football 408Thursday
8 p.m.
522,910 464,625 13%
3 Rosewood 408Thursday
8 p.m.
83,430 88,687 -6%
5 DC's Legends of Tomorrow 408Thursday
8 p.m.
37,033 -100NA -100NA
4 Superstore 408Thursday
8 p.m.
87,707 -100NA -100NA
4 Thursday Night Football 408Thursday
8 p.m.
485,695 -100NA -100NA
4 The Good Place 409Thursday
8:30 p.m.
93,992 -100NA -100NA
2 The Great Indoors 409Thursday
8:30 p.m.
144,312 -100NA -100NA
1 Scandal 410Thursday
9 p.m.
-100NA 224,509 -100NA
1 Notorious 410Thursday
9 p.m.
144,274 -100NA -100NA
3 Pitch 410Thursday
9 p.m.
93,554 -100NA -100NA
4 Chicago Med 410Thursday
9 p.m.
135,535 120,642 12%
5 Supernatural 410Thursday
9 p.m.
28,300 35,631 -21%
2 Mom 410Thursday
9 p.m.
121,116 144,660 -16%
2 Life in Pieces 411Thursday
9:30 p.m.
140,946 192,379 -27%
2 Pure Genius 412Thursday
10 p.m.
87,584 -100NA -100NA
1 How to Get Away with Murder 412Thursday
10 p.m.
178,339 252,934 -30%
4 The Blacklist 412Thursday
10 p.m.
145,122 193,793 -25%
1 Last Man Standing 508Friday
8 p.m.
75,576 64,631 17%
2 MacGyver 508Friday
8 p.m.
72,310 -100NA -100NA
3 Hell's Kitchen 508Friday
8 p.m.
78,566 -100NA -100NA
5 The Vampire Diaries 508Friday
8 p.m.
24,929 44,924 -45%
4 Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon 508Friday
8 p.m.
44,398 -100NA -100NA
1 Dr. Ken 509Friday
8:30 p.m.
64,228 63,543 1%
1 Shark Tank 510Friday
9 p.m.
99,553 99,631 -0.1%
2 Hawaii Five-0 510Friday
9 p.m.
76,520 77,683 -1%
4 Grimm 510Friday
9 p.m.
76,060 81,198 -6%
3 The Excorcist 510Friday
9 p.m.
52,176 -100NA -100NA
3 Sleepy Hollow 510Friday
9 p.m.
65,282 98,253 -34%
5 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 510Friday
9 p.m.
14,309 23,159 -38%
1 20/20 511Friday
10 p.m.
79,149 65,994 20%
4 Dateline 511Friday
10 p.m.
53,323 47,261 13%
2 Blue Bloods 511Friday
10 p.m.
74,368 75,965 -2%
4 Dateline Saturday Night Mystery 607Saturday
7 p.m.
38,841 -100NA -100NA
1 Saturday Night Football 608Saturday
8 p.m.
87,084 -100NA -100NA
2 Crimetime Saturday 608Saturday
8 p.m./
9 p.m.
24,546 18,471 33%
2 48 Hours 610Saturday
10 p.m.
31,038 33,831 -8%
4 Saturday Night Live Encores 610Saturday
10 p.m.
31,767 25,242 26%
1 America's Funniest Home Videos 707Sunday
7 p.m.
62,363 61,567 1%
2 60 Minutes 707Sunday
7 p.m.
115,630 111,298 4%
3 Bob's Burgers 708Sunday
7:30 p.m.
65,903 74,733 -12%
1 Once Upon a Time 709Sunday
8 p.m.
109,410 155,596 -30%
3 The Simpsons 709Sunday
8 p.m.
161,633 186,050 -13%
4 Sunday Night Football 709Sunday
8 p.m.
673,664 603,000 12%
2 NCIS: Los Angeles 709Sunday
8 p.m.
108,145 109,940 -2%
3 Son of Zorn 710Sunday
8:30 p.m.
140,987 -100NA -100NA
3 Family Guy 711Sunday
9 p.m.
132,467 164,933 -20%
1 Secrets and Lies 711Sunday
9 p.m.
99,101 -100NA -100NA
2 Madam Secretary 711Sunday
9 p.m.
101,778 99,587 2%
3 The Last Man on Earth 712Sunday
9:30 p.m.
94,293 131,045 -28%
1 Quantico 713Sunday
10 p.m.
106,074 120,387 -12%
2 Elementary 713Sunday
10 p.m.
78,346 98,138 -20%
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.

Surprising no one, NFL programming once again touts the most expensive commercial time on TV, according to Ad Age's annual survey of media buying firms.

"Sunday Night Football" cost advertisers a whopping $673,664 on average for a 30-second spot, a 12% increase from the 2015-16 season. "Thursday Night Football" on CBS averaged about $522,910, while the games on NBC ran about $485,695.

An NBC spokesman said the cost for a 30-second spot in its "Thursday Night Football" broadcast cost advertisers $560,000.

It's also worth noting that Fox's late-national NFL games, which are not technically in primetime, fetched anywhere from $700,000 to $800,000 for a 30-second spot, while ESPN's "Monday Night Football" commanded about $400,000 for commercial time.

ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" returns to the top 10 for the first time since 2010. Credit: ABC/Mitch Haaseth

Ad Age's survey is assembled using information from as many as six media-buying agencies. (See our 2015 pricing chart). The resulting prices should be viewed as directional indicators and are not the actual price that every advertiser paid 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.

Top 10 Priciest Shows on Broadcast For Advertisers
1
Sunday Night Football
$673,664
2
Thursday Night Football
$522,910
3
Thursday Night Football
$485,695
4
Empire
$437,100
5
The Big Bang Theory
$289,136
6
This Is Us
$272,000
7
Modern Family
$224,571
8
The Voice (Mon)
$214,079
9
The Voice (Tues)
$202,600
10
Grey's Anatomy
$193,210
Photo credits: Sunday Night Football: Zade Rosenthal/NBC; Thursday Night Football (CBS): John P. Filo/CBS; Empire: Michael Lavine/FOX; The Big Bang Theory: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.; Modern Family: Peter "Hopper" Stone/ABC; The Voice (Tues): Trae Patton/NBC; Grey's Anatomy: Mitch Haaseth/ABC; all others courtesy NBCUniversal.

Fox's "Empire" is the most expensive scripted show on broadcast, averaging $437,100 down about 12% from nearly $500,000 last year. It also moves down two spots to No. 4 on this list.

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The hip-hop drama returned for its third season to 10.8 million viewers and a 4.1 rating among adults 18 to 49. While that was flat compared to its May finale, it represents a 39% decline from its 2015 fall premiere. It is important to note, however, that "Empire" typically sees a meaningful boost in delayed viewing.

Aside from "Monday Night Football," there are several cable programs that rival those on broadcast, such as AMC's "The Walking Dead" and its prequel "Fear the Walking Dead."

But it is difficult to compare many cable ad packages to those of broadcast because cable buys often include multiple airings and repeats of a show.

CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" continues its descent among the most expensive shows, dropping one notch from last year to No. 5. In its 10th season, "Big Bang" cost about $289,136 for commercial time, down 17% from last year.

The series in September had its smallest season opener in four years, averaging 15.8 million viewers and a 5.4 rating in the target demographic, down 17% from last season's premiere.

There seem to be lofty expectations for NBC's newest drama, "This Is Us," which comes in at No. 6 and holds the title of the most expensive freshman series of the season. Averaging $272,000 for a 30-second spot, it is 30% more expensive than last year's costliest new series, NBC's "Blindspot."

NBC's "This Is Us" is the most expensive new series. Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

But as the past several years have shown, high prices can quickly fall. After coming in at No. 10 on the chart last year, "Blindspot" saw its price decline 36% to $134,629. Similarly, NBC's "The Blacklist" has fallen considerably since it was the most expensive new series of the 2013-2014 season. Now in its fourth season, "The Blacklist" cost advertisers $145,122 on average, off 25% from last year.

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Other notable decliners include ABC's "How to Get Away With Murder," which has been pushed off the top 10 list after coming in at No. 5 last year. The Shonda Rhimes "TGIT" drama cost advertisers $178,339 on average, a 30% decline from last season.

The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" saw its pricing plunge 45% to $24,929.

ABC's "Modern Family" remains steady at No. 7, averaging $224,570; NBC's "The Voice" Monday and Tuesday episodes come in at No. 8 and No. 9, respectively.

Among returning broadcast shows, 11 have seen the cost for ad time increase, while another 36 have seen decreases and 14 have remained relatively steady.

Many agencies surveyed have not yet placed orders for commercial time in shows appearing mid-season, resulting in the typically high-priced "Scandal" being left off the list. The few that have gone to order are averaging about $200,000.

Fox's next Lee Daniels musical drama, "Star," is commanding as much as $300,000 for a 30-second spot.

Online production by Chen Wu.

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