TargetCast: Prime Ad Rates Dip 11%

NEW YORK An analysis by independent media agency TargetCast shows the average cost per unit for a prime-time commercial on the broadcast television networks in the second quarter declined by slightly more than 11 percent to $139,728.

Fox averaged the highest 30-second commercial unit cost at $254,852, clearly bolstered by American Idol, and declined by only 2.7 percent from its second-quarter average last year.

ABC’s average commercial unit cost, according to TargetCast, was $142,194, down 5.1 percent from last year. CBS’ average commercial unit cost in prime time was $118,224, down a whopping 18 percent, while NBC’s average commercial unit cost was $103,693, down 11.1 percent.

TargetCast said the Writers Guild of America strike, and the fact that the networks had fewer first-run episodes in April than last year, had a negative impact on pricing the networks were able to get.

Not only were there fewer new episodes, but, according to Gary Carr, svp, director of broadcast services for TargetCast: “When the new episodes aired, they didn’t perform up to pre-strike levels. Viewers found other options and didn’t rush back to the networks.”

Carr said as a result of decreased ratings, the broadcast networks had to issue more make goods. He said the networks cumulatively issued about 20 percent of their inventory for make goods in Q2, compared to about 13 percent a year earlier.

TargetCast uses syndicated research and tracking data from the NetCosts system, and examined actual reported spending for prime time on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox to compute an average unit cost for each network.