'Sunday Night Football' Beats 'Grey's Anatomy'

Medical Drama Doesn't Cost Most Any More as Live Events Attract Ad Dollars

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- NBC's "Sunday Night Football" has muscled its way past ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" to become the most expensive fall program for advertisers on network TV in the 2008-2009 season. The NBC sports program commands an average cost of $434,792 for a 30-second commercial, compared with "Grey's," which this season brings in $326,685 for the same, according to an Advertising Age survey of media-buying firms.

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Last year, the two programs' positions were flipped. "Grey's" notched an average of $419,000 for a 30-second spot, while "Football" brought in an average of $358,000. The shift reflects advertisers' increasing interest in live events that bring in mass audiences watching programs as they happen, rather than hours or days later via a DVR. Already, advertisers have flocked to events such as NBC Universal's broadcast of the Olympics from Beijing. NBC's coming broadcast of the Super Bowl, meanwhile, is nearly sold out even before Thanksgiving.

Rest of the top 10
ABC's "Desperate Housewives" costs an average of $318,552, followed by CBS's "Two and a Half Men," which, at $276,443, is the most expensive comedy on network TV. Next come two dramas, CBS's "CSI" ($262,600) and Fox's "House" ($260,179), followed by two of Fox's animated offerings, "The Simpsons" ($250,000) and "Family Guy" ($231,306). The top 10 is rounded out by CBS's "Survivor" ($212,800) and NBC's "The Office" ($213,164). All prices reflect the average price paid by media buyers surveyed.

Fox's new drama "Fringe" trumps many of these prices. While a new show that can command more than $340,000 for a 30-second commercial seems shocking, the News Corp. network is running the J.J. Abrams program with fewer ads and in certain cases shorter commercial breaks. Because those commercials are expected to stand out more than those that run in regular programming, media buyers say Fox has asked for -- and received -- a premium for ad time that appears in the show.

CBS's "Worst Week," sandwiched on Monday night between powerhouse "Two and a Half Men" and reliable "CSI: Miami," is right behind "Fringe" as one of the costliest new shows of the fall season, raking in about $179,727.

Thanks to NBC's "Football," ABC's "Housewives" and Fox's animation, Sunday evening continues its reign as the costliest night of the week. The Walt Disney network also continues its tenure as the costliest broadcast network, thanks not only to "Grey's" and "Housewives" but also "Dancing With the Stars," which takes in an average of $205,000 for a 30-second ad and just misses being part of the top ranks of most-expensive fall programs.
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