Chuck Lorre vs. Shonda Rhimes: This Showrunner Boasts the Most Expensive Ads

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Chuck Lorre and Shonda Rhimes, two of TV's most successful showrunners.
Chuck Lorre and Shonda Rhimes, two of TV's most successful showrunners. Credit: CBS, ABC

In a battle of the most prolific showrunners, Chuck Lorre's comedies are the costliest for advertisers.

On average, a 30-second commercial in Lorre's three CBS shows averaged just under $200,000 during the 2017-2018 season, according to Ad Age's annual survey of media buyers.

Shonda Rhimes' sudsy dramas on ABC, by comparison, cost advertisers $171,477. Dick's Wolf's NBC crime stories average $135,782.

Lorre's "The Big Bang Theory" still commands top dollar of any of their shows, averaging $285,908 for a 30-second commercial this season, on par with the 2015-16 season. That makes it No. 6 on this year's ranking of primetime broadcast programming and No. 1 among scripted broadcast comedies.

Its spin-off, "Young Sheldon," is among the most expensive new series this season, costing advertisers $180,393. "Young Sheldon" debuted last week to 17.2 million viewers and pulled a 3.8 rating in the 18-to-49 demo, making it the biggest comedy premiere in four years. It won't air again until November, but CBS has already announced it is giving the series a full-season order.

And a unit in Lorre's "Mom" averaged $122,318, on par with last season.

Ad Age's survey is assembled using information from as many as eight media-buying agencies and reflect prices that advertisers and networks agreed on in this year's upfront marketplace. These prices should be viewed as directional indicators and not the actual price that every advertiser paid for a 30-second spot.

Shonda Rhimes' night of wine and popcorn (ABC's serving suggestion in some "Thank God It's Thursday" promos for her lineup) couldn't quite match Lorre's ad prices. In its 14th season, "Grey's Anatomy" is costing advertisers $213,576 on average, placing it at No. 10 on our list. Still, its price is down 11% from last season and a far cry from the $400,000-plus that it commanded in the 2007-08 season, when it was the most expensive program on TV.

The final season of "Scandal" is fetching just under $200,000 for a 30-second spot, while "How to Get Away With Murder" costs $164,984, down 8% from last year.

The costliest of Dick Wolf's NBC shows, which include "Chicago P.D." and "Law & Order: SVU," is the new "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders" at $153,556.

And Greg Berlanti, who touts five dramas on the CW ("Arrow," "The Flash," "DC's Legends of Tomorrow," "Supergirl" and "Riverdale") on plus "Blindspot" on NBC, averaged $51,931.

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