The most costly commercial slots in TV history will likely be those being sold by NBC for the final episode of Seinfeld, set to air on Thursday, May 14, from 9-10 p.m.
Several sources in media buying agencies said last week that NBC's asking price may go as high as $2 million for a 30-second spot on the sitcom's finale.
Currently, the highest price is $1.3 million, which was paid for a 30-second unit on last month's Super Bowl, also broadcast by NBC.
As of late last week, NBC had not set rates for the episode.
A number of buyers, however, said they have heard from NBC that the price tag could hit $2 million. Others said they have been told $1.7 million to $2 million. NBC, which is expected to begin formal approaches to advertisers in the next week or two, declined comment.
On May 14, a one-hour Seinfeld retrospective is expected to air at 8 p.m., leading into the finale. At 10 p.m., NBC is planning to run the season finale of ER. The network is also said to be trying to get the Seinfeld cast to appear that same night on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. The evening, therefore, is shaping up as the most lucrative primetime ever for a network.
Sources said NBC has received some 50 letters from advertisers expressing interest in the episode. There are currently no advertiser holds on the May 14 Seinfeld, so NBC has the entire inventory available.
NBC is projecting a Super Bowl-level rating in the 40s for the Seinfeld sign-off, agency executives said.