Ads for The Office Finale Could Go for $400,000

NBC sets premium rates

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but NBC is taking the sting out of series finale of The Office by tacking an extra 15 minutes onto the one-hour running time.

The Peacock announced today that Episode 200/201 of its long-running comedy will air from 9 to 10:15 p.m. on May 16. NBC will compensate for the 75-minute closer by running fewer commercials in lead-out drama Hannibal.

Along with giving fans some bonus time with the Dunder-Mifflin gang, the super-sized episode allows NBC to sell another four to five minutes of commercial inventory. With expectations of a big turnout for next week’s show, NBC has commanded unit costs as high as $400,000 per 30-second spot.

Per media buyer estimates, the premium marks a nearly 200 percent uptick from the average price NBC wrote for Season 9 during the 2012-13 upfront.

While that makes for a tidy increase, the price of admission is nowhere near as steep as other recent finales. For example, ABC in 2010 secured a 325 percent markup for the final installment of Lost, commanding around $925,000 per :30. Then again, the Lost capper also averaged 13.5 million viewers and a 5.8 in the 18-49 demo, numbers well beyond what anyone expects for The Office finale.

That same year, Fox secured an average unit cost of around $675,000 for time in the last installment of 24, more than double the rates it charged in the preceding upfront.

As series finales go, the most expensive time buy in TV history was in the May 6, 2004, installment of NBC’s Friends. Clients ponied up as much as $2.25 million for 30 seconds of air time in “The Last One,” which would go on to draw a massive 52.5 million viewers. By Nielsen’s reckoning, approximately 43 percent of TV homes watched the episode. 

Written by showrunner Greg Daniels and directed by Ken Kwapis, The Office finale will feature cameos by the likes of Joan Cusack; Ed Begley, Jr.; Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) and Matt L. Jones (Breaking Bad’s Badger). Office alumni Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak are also slated to return, while it remains uncertain if Steve Carell will reprise the role of Michael Scott and offer up one final exclamation of “That’s what she said.” Daniels has said that Carell had closed the book on the part two years ago in Episode 148, “Goodbye Michael,” but reports suggest that the actor was present during the final days of filming.

The cut line reveals only that the present and past employees of Dunder-Mifflin will gather for a wedding and a final round of interviews with the documentary crew that filmed the last nine years of their lives.

Through 21 episodes, the final season of The Office is averaging 4.04 million live-plus-same-day viewers and a 2.0 in the adults 18-49 demo, making it the second most-watched and -rated NBC comedy, behind Go On. The Matthew Perry vehicle averaged 5.67 million viewers and a 2.1 in the dollar demo during its freshman run.

At its peak in Season 5, The Office averaged 7.9 million viewers per night and a 4.0 in the demo.