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How Much Do TV Commercials Cost?

One of the common questions I am asked is “how much did that commercial I saw last night cost?” Though the price of media fluctuates wildly, and time is always subject to heavy negotiation, here is a snapshot of some fairly recent pricing for media in big name time slots (based on numbers from Ad Age) –

  • Spot on Sunday Night Football – $339,700 (the most expensive slot on television)
  • Spot on Grey’s Anatomy – $240,462
  • Spot on Desperate Housewives – $228,851
  • Spot on Two And A Half Men – $226,635
  • Spot on The Family Guy – $214,740

The most expensive slot for a new show goes to ABC’s Flash Forward (one of my favorites of the new season), which goes for $175,724.  Perhaps the biggest bust of the new season is The Leno Show.  NBC was banking on the fact that they would come out dollars ahead by discontinuing the production of expensive dramas, and instead put the cheap to produce Leno show in the 10 pm slot.   However, the loss of advertising revenue will probably cancel out any savings given its dismal performance.  A slot in Leno now goes for anywhere from $48,000 to $65,ooo – significantly less than the nighttime dramas generate.  Leno is also causing major issues for NBC affiliates.  As viewership in the 10 pm slot has dropped, so has the viewership for local news programs that follow Leno, which really hurts affiliate profits.

The above numbers don’t include the cost of creative and production for the commercials.  The average production budget for a nationally-broadcast commercial is somewhere in the $400,000 range, but depending on the creative can easily run into the millions of dollars.  And those numbers don’t include the cost of talent, which can add several hundred of thousands to several million dollars a year.

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