A 30-Second Ad on Fox’s Empire Would Have Cost You Over $500K Last Year

By Erik Oster 

Here’s a somewhat interesting piece that has nothing to do with agency press releases: Advertising research, analytics, and planning tool SQAD pushed out an analysis of the average cost of a primetime 30-second spot for the top-rated fall shows of 2015.

Fox’s Empire easily topped with the list, with its $508,115 average cost for a primetime 30-second spot more than double the runner-up, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, which had an average cost of $249,161.

But while Fox had the biggest hit, ABC’s lineup had more depth, with How To Get Away With Murder, Scandal and Modern Family each breaking an average of $225,000 for a combined average of around $229,000 per 30-second spot. Empire still gave Fox the lead in that category, though. Despite Family Guy and Scream Queens averaging below $141,000, the combined average for the network’s top three programs was a little over $260,000 per 30-second spot.


Among the other findings, The Voice was the only reality show to make the list, at an average of $222, 487 for a 30-second spot and CW was the least expensive of the networks, with the youth-oriented network’s top offering of The Flash averaging $59,028 for a 30-second spot.

The study also found that some of the best values to not make the list included CBS’ Code Black, which charged an average of $121,223 for a 30-second spot with ratings* of 6.3 (comparable to the 6.2 ratings for NBC’s Blindspot, which charged an average of $177,044), and CBS’ Limitless, with a 6.2 rating* and an average cost of just $101,457 for a 30-second spot.

Based on the first ratings and social media engagement studies from this year’s season, it looks like This Is Us could be the next Empire.

Here’s the table of each network’s 3 priciest programs from last fall:

Network Show Average cost for :30 spot HH Rating* HH CPM*
ABC Scandal $229,099 6.8 28.88
Modern Family $232,113 5.4 36.59
How to Get Away With Murder $225,985 6 32.58
CBS Big Bang Theory $249,161 8 26.85
Supergirl $207,812 5 35.59
Scorpion $152,400 6.6 19.86
CW The Flash $59,028 2 25.81
Significant Mother $44,486 0.9 41.77
The Arrow $42,957 1.7 21.5
FOX Empire $508,115 8.6 50.71
Family Guy $140,466 2.9 41.52
Scream Queens $132,542 3.8 29.95
NBC The Voice $222,487 6.8 28.26
Blindspot $177,044 6.2 24.35
The Blacklist $142,948 5.6 21.85

*Household ratings are based on an aggregate of the guaranteed ratings by networks, not actual Nielsen ratings