Gone in 30 Seconds: What Networks Are Charging

NEW YORK For the fourth consecutive season, Fox’s American Idol is network TV’s highest priced regular series for advertisers. The cost of a 30-second unit for upcoming episodes (which begin in January 2008) is $700,000 for both the Monday and Tuesday installments of the program, according to media buying and network sources. The cost for the Monday installment is roughly in line with last year, while the Tuesday time slot is commanding a slightly higher rate, those sources said.

American Idol, on which would-be singing sensations compete for a record deal, has by far the biggest audience—around 28 million—of any regularly scheduled network series, and is down only slightly for its sixth installment, said Brad Adgate, svp, director of research at Horizon Media. For the last few seasons, the Simon Fuller-created Idol essentially drove Fox to victory in the ratings race among adults 18 to 49, the key demo for most prime-time advertisers.

No other regularly scheduled show comes close to Idol’s price tag. Behind the two nights of Idol, the third most expensive show for the new season is the ABC Thursday night hit Grey’s Anatomy, which fetches an average $465,000 for each 30-second unit.

The series rounding out the top 10 most expensive programs across the five major broadcast networks are: Desperate Housewives (ABC), $378,000; Sunday Night Football (NBC), $350,000; Heroes (NBC), $330,000; The Simpsons and 24 (both Fox), both $300,000, and CSI (CBS) and House (Fox), both priced at $290,000.

The most expensive new show on the schedule (and ranked 11th priciest overall) is Grey’s spin-off Private Practice, airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m., and for which advertisers ponied up an average $255,000. Shari Anne Brill, vp and director of programming at Aegis Media’s Carat, predicts the series will be the highest ranked new show of the season, drawing an average 7.2 million adults 18-49 each week. (See related story on page 6.)

Rounding out ABC’s top-five most expensive shows, according to sources, are Dancing With the Stars and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which are both commanding a price of $250,000. Among other new shows on ABC, Dirty Sexy Money is drawing about $168,000, while Pushing Daisies is collecting $115,000. Cavemen costs $100,000 and Carpoolers is priced at $90,000. Network representatives declined to comment.

At CBS, Survivor is the second most expensive show behind CSI, with spots going for $240,000. Two and a Half Men is the third priciest show in the lineup at $230,000. The Big Bang Theory on Monday is the network’s costliest new show at $138,000. Tuesday drama Cane is next at $128,000, followed by Viva Laughlin, $110,000; Moonlight, $104.000, and Kid Nation, $101,000.

At $185,000 per :30, Bionic Woman is NBC’s most expensive new series. It also rounds out NBC’s top five in cost, behind My Name Is Earl ($195,000), The Office ($210,000), Heroes and football. Journeyman is the net’s second most expensive new show at $165,000, followed by Chuck ($125,000) and Life ($110,000).

With a price tag of $190,000, new Monday drama K-Ville is Fox’s priciest new show, followed by the new Wednesday comedy Back to You ($175,000), Great American Band ($109,000), Don’t Forget the Lyrics ($100,000), Kitchen Nightmares ($75,000) and Nashville ($60,000).

America’s Next Top Model is the CW network’s most expensive program, with spots attracting nearly $175,000. Beauty and the Geek is next, with a :30 spot averaging $115,000. Wednesday drama Gossip Girl is the network’s priciest new show—and the net’s third most expensive overall—at $109,000 per :30, followed by Reaper, which at $85,000 is the network’s fifth highest priced show overall, behind Thursday stalwart Smallville at $97,000.