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.