Fox’s ‘24′ Advertising Fees Among TV’s Priciest


CBS seeking $165,000 to $185,000 for 30 seconds in 'Under the Dome' as summer months on broadcast show new life

Even Jack Bauer, the indefatigable U.S. super agent from the popular Fox series “24,” can be bought.

Fox is seeking as much as $500,000 for a 30-second ad in the debut of “24: Live Another Day,” a much–ballyhooed revival of its groundbreaking spy drama, and between $325,000 and $350,000 for a spot in subsequent episodes, according to people familiar with the situation.

Even at $325,000, an ad in the new “24” would be among TV’s priciest.  At $325,000 a commercial in “24: Live Another Day” would be the second-most expensive program on broadcast television, according to a Variety survey of ad prices for the 2013-2014 TV season, beaten only by NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” which notches an average of $628,000 for a 30-second spot. A 30-second ad in ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” at an average of $408,000, also costs more.

The prices for the limited “24” series, set to debut May 5 on Fox, suggest demand for the program has not waned since the original show went off the air in 2010. Fox sought between $200,000 and $280,000 for a 30-second spot in the series’ last season, and pushed for as much as $650,000 for a 30-second ad in the original series finale.

The limited series, which will feature regular cast members Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub, may be seen as pivotal to Fox’s plans for the near future. Executives at the network have articulated a strategy of relying on “event” programs set to launch year-round.

Fox and National Geographic Channel are poised to launch a modernized version of the popular PBS science series “Cosmos” March 9 and 10. And the network has plans for such limited run series as “Wayward Pines,” a thriller from M. Night Shyamalan about a Secret Service agent stuck in an eerie little town. A recreation of the popular 1980 miniseries “Shogun” is in development.

The return of “24” is just the latest signal that broadcast-TV networks are reversing a longstanding policy of putting on lesser-quality programming in the summer months. For decades, based on business patterns that made sense when three broadcast networks soaked up much of the TV viewing in the U.S., CBS, NBC and ABC would largely use the summer to run specials, burn off failed pilots and play reruns.

With the rise of cable networks and their investment in original scripted series that launch in summer, the broadcasters have ceded a lot of viewing to rivals.

CBS found success last year with the debut of “Under the Dome,” a sci-fi drama based on a story by noted horror author Stephen King. CBS is seeking an average of $165,000 to $185,000 for a 30-second ad in the show’s second season, according to a person familiar with the situation. Ads in the show’s first season could have been had for $116,000, according to one ad buyer’s estimate.

Demand for “Dome” ramped up as the series played out on air last year. Movie studios, not typically the biggest buyers of air time on CBS, were willing to pay as much as $300,000 to run trailers during the program, according to the person familiar with the situation. In some weeks, every commercial break in “Dome” included an ad for a movie.

CBS said both “Under the Dome” and a new summer series, “Extant,” have been “very well received” by media buyers and advertisers. Nina Tassler, chairman of CBS Entertainment, recently held meetings with advertisers and their representatives in Chicago, New York and Detroit.

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  1. Rena Moretti says:

    Dear Brian: If you believe these numbers, I happen to have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn…

    Seriously, this is ridiculous, even for journalists who notoriously can’t count.

    $500,000 for 30-second spot would gross $30 Million for a two-hour premiere.

    They’ll be lucky to get $3Million!!!

    Those numbers are clearly false.

    Why do you fall for it? Is it to stay in the good graces of the networks?!!

    Please do some simple arithmetic and use common sense.

    The network business is quickly dying on the vine, yet they claim ever higher ad rates for ever smaller audiences (reminder 24 was never a huge hit – it was a hit for its 5th season and an OK performer for the rest).

    You are saying that advertisers are so silly they’ll overpay not just a little, but hugely to be on a supposedly hip show. That’s ridiculous!!

    I was sad to see CBS also get into the dance pretending it made oodles on unspectacular performer The Dome.

    Now you’ll tell me “this is what FOX is asking for”… But that’s not what you wrote (and is being picked up by other journalists assuming you checked the veracity of those outlandish claims) You stated it as a fact.

    FOX would have to get way over 50 million viewers to actually get that rate, and then would have to deliver them (ever wonder how many make-dos NBC had to give for its Olympic ads that didn’t perform?)

    Please give us real numbers, not hype!

    • Brian Steinberg says:

      Rena – I have a long history of reporting on ad prices, and typically start with getting estimates from media buyers- the people who represent the companies purchasing ad time.

      And you are inaccurate in some of your comments – we never state these prices as a fait accompli, but tell it like it is: These are the prices Fox is seeking.

      Nowhere in the story do we report the prices Fox is getting. If other journalists who are not as well versed in the to and fro of the ad market are reporting details that are not accurate, they should read this article more carefully.

      As you must know, the ad market is a pretty fluid thing, and TV networks routinely ask for higher prices than they know they’ll get. Why report the “ask” figure? Because it’s an indication of what buyers and sellers think will be a big-audience program or episode, and suggests the level of interest and negotiation.

      Clearly, Fox is not likely to get $500K for every ad it features in the debut episode of the new “24,” but I guess I assume that readers of Variety have a high level of sophistication and understanding as to how the business works.

      Thanks for your note. It raises lots of issues worth addressing

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