2005-2006 Prime Time TV Season 30 Sec Ad Rates
(see also: Previous Year Ad Rates; Understanding TV Ratings)

NOTE: info in this chart below was gleaned
from the news story that follows.

Program Title Network 30 Sec Ad Rate

2. $560,000
3. $465,000
4. $440,000
5. $400,000
6. $355,000


9. $310,000
10. $293,000

Fox Breaks Prime-Time Pricing Record
September 12, 2005
By Steve McClellan, Adweek

Heading into its fifth year, American Idol, Fox's hit show, has set a new milestone 
for network TV: a record-high price tag for a 30-second commercial unit.

For the new fall season, the cost of a 30-second spot during the Wednesday 
installment of the program has surpassed the $700,000 mark. That’s a first for 
any regularly scheduled prime-time network series. Sources with firsthand knowledge 
of the numbers confirmed that the average price for a 30-second unit in the program 
is $705,000, up about 7 percent from a year ago.
For the second year in a row, the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of American Idol 
are the most expensive shows on network TV (the Tuesday installment of AI is going 
for $660,000 per :30). “Deservedly so,” said Andy Donchin, executive vp/director of 
national broadcast at Carat, noting that they were the highest-rated shows of the 
2004-05 season across most of the key metrics, including adults 18-49.

Sources said Cingular Wireless, Coca-Cola and Ford, last year’s major American Idol 
advertisers, have all renewed their sponsorships.

The highest-priced new show is NBC’s The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, sources said, 
with 30-second units pegged at $310,000. Other new shows commanding strong prices 
include ABC’s Invasion and Commander in Chief, both at about $240,000 per :30. UPN’s 
anticipated new comedy, Everybody Hates Chris, is getting $179,000, a record price for 
the network.
The 2005-06 season will be the third in a row in which the most expensive network series 
is a reality show. Two years ago, Survivor topped the list with a price tag of $425,000. 
The last time a scripted-entertainment series (sitcom or drama) was the priciest show 
was during 2002-03, when Friends, then in its penultimate season, took in $420,000 per 
30-second unit.

No other single show comes close to this year’s eye-popping Idol price tag. Buyer and network sources said the average price of a network 30-second ad for the new fall season is approximately $150,000. The average price last year was about $143,500, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

For every high-ticket show like Idol, there are programs with prices well below average, such as Fox’s Bones (priced at $115,000), ABC’s Wife Swap and Night Stalker (both at $105,000), and CBS’ Ghost Whisperer and Threshold ($100,000 and $88,000, respectively).

Aside from the two Idol editions, only one other regularly scheduled series across the networks is priced at more than $500,000, and that’s ABC’s Desperate Housewives, which is fetching an average of $560,000 per spot for the season, up 275 percent from last fall. Housewives, the highest-rated new show of last season and third overall in adults 18-49 ratings, spearheaded a turnaround for ABC on Sunday nights. A year ago, ABC was an also-ran on Sundays, and most of its 30-second ads there were priced around $150,000 or below. By the end of last season, the network dominated the night in the ratings, and prices for the new season reflect that. A spot in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition now costs $355,000, almost double the price of a year ago, while Grey’s Anatomy, a midseason hit that premiered earlier this year, is priced at $440,000, about 125 percent higher than its original cost.

Brad Adgate, senior vp and corporate research director at Horizon Media, said that dramas in general have made a big comeback, as evidenced by ABC’s Sunday resurgence and also by the fact that all six broadcast networks are going head-to-head with dramas on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. this fall. No one is counter-programming, which suggests a high degree of confidence in the quality of the product, said Adgate. “I don’t think that has ever happened before,” he added.

At CBS, CSI remains the highest-priced show for the second straight year, with an average spot price of $465,000, up 5 percent from a year ago. Survivor continues as the second-priciest show on the network, at $350,000 per :30, albeit down about 6 percent from last fall, which reflects a comparable drop in the show’s ratings. Monday stalwart Two and a Half Men has moved into the 9 p.m. anchor position (in place of the departed Everybody Loves Raymond) and commands rates of $293,000 per :30, almost 20 percent more than last fall.

ER remains NBC’s highest-priced show at $400,000, down about 10 percent from a year ago, reflecting the show’s ratings drop of almost 3 points among adults 18-49. The Apprentice also fell in the ratings last year, and the price dropped 13 percent to $350,000.
UPN’s highest-rated show of last season, America’s Next Top Model, is attracting spot rates of $118,000. The WB’s priciest shows for the new season include the returning 7th Heaven and Gilmore Girls, both collecting $96,000 per :30.


  Hit Counter