Just as in the cosmological model that explains how the universe sprang into existence from an infinitely dense singularity, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory has grown with such explosive force that it appears to be its own ever-expanding universe.
According to media buyers surveyed by Adweek, The Big Bang Theory in its seventh season now commands a staggering $326,260 per 30-second spot, topping the likes of NBC’s The Voice ($264,575 for the higher-rated Wednesday night show), ABC’s Modern Family ($257,435) and Fox’s The Simpsons ($256,963).
The robust unit cost is a function of Big Bang’s monster ratings—three episodes into the fall season, Chuck Lorre’s sitcom is averaging 19.2 million viewers and a 5.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demo—and its seemingly unstoppable growth. After posting full-season highs two years running, Big Bang’s ratings are currently trending up 12 percent versus the 2012-13 campaign.
While the NFL commands the highest unit cost of any TV property—Fox’s roster of eight late national NFC games fetches a jaw-dropping $595,000 per :30, while each unit in NBC’s Sunday Night Football franchise is worth around $570,000 a throw—the general entertainment programs enjoy a longer run: 35 weeks when lower-priced repeats are factored in.
Among the Big Four broadcast nets, CBS earns the biggest average premiums for its freshman series. The Crazy Ones, the new Tuesday 9 p.m. anchor starring Robin Williams as an idiosyncratic ad agency boss, boasts an average unit cost of $175,200—the highest rate for any new comedy. The defending ratings champ also earns top dollar for Big Bang lead-out The Millers ($122,390), Lorre’s latest multicamera sitcom Mom ($138,575) and the ratings-challenged serialized thriller Hostages ($134,420).
ABC’s established reach vehicles (Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy and, more recently, Scandal) and its popularity with younger, affluent women have allowed it to remain competitive despite ongoing ratings hiccups. But it’s a new male-skewing series that’s really leading the charge this fall, as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is pricing at an average rate of $169,730 per :30. Lead-out comedies The Goldbergs ($93,200) and Trophy Wife ($91,175) are roughly on par with the former time slot occupants, while the canceled lottery drama Lucky 7 was a bad bet at $86,355 a pop.
ABC’s new Rebel Wilson sitcom Super Fun Night is fetching around $130,823 for each 30-second spot, an increase of some 33 percent compared to its predecessor, The Neighbors.
Having inherited the plum Voice lead-out from Revolution, NBC’s The Blacklist enjoys the distinction of being the most valuable new series on the dial ($198,667). And while that has helped establish NBC as the most expensive environment on Monday nights, pricing parity hasn’t trickled down to new shows like Ironside ($71,500) and Welcome to the Family ($62,370). That said, The Michael J. Fox show commands a healthy $110,050 per spot.
Fox’s lighter load of newbies includes broadcast’s best new bargain (Sleepy Hollow, $139,120), the underperforming Dads ($120,100) and the on-the-bubble Andy Samberg comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine ($96,225).