×

TV Ad Prices: Football, ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Big Bang Theory,’ ‘Blacklist’ Top the List

Charts: TV's Top 25 Shows and Night-by-Night Breakdown of Broadcast Series

The flesh-eating creatures from AMC’s gory “The Walking Dead” have started to eat into football’s pricing power, according to Variety’s annual analysis of primetime TV advertising costs.

Advertisers are willing to pay more for a package of spots across multiple airings of “Dead” than they are for a 30-second spot in a broadcast of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The ESPN pigskin showcase was the second most-expensive program for advertisers in last year’s survey, coming in just behind NBC’s ”Sunday Night Football.” This year it ranks No. 4.

The average cost of a 30-second ad in “Monday Night Football” is an eye-popping $397,898, according to the Variety analysis, which uses estimates collected from as many as six different media-buying firms as well as other sources. No scripted program on broadcast can top it. Yet the cost of a package on “Dead” comes to an average of $413,695. The shift comes as the average price “Dead” can command rises nearly 27%, while “MNF” prices fall nearly 2.5%.

To be sure, the shift also comes after CBS launched its new eight-week “Thursday Night Football,” which prompted some ad buyers earlier this year to wonder if the market for live football might be nearing saturation.

On an apples-to-apples basis, one might not compare a package of ads in a cable drama to a single 30-second ad berth in a sports broadcast. Yet “Dead” is worth including, because it represents an increasingly powerful way for Madison Avenue to reach one of its most elusive targets – young male consumers. And its unit price is as rich as that being paid for some NFL game time.

The figures in Variety’s commercial-price analysis should be taken as directional indicators, not hard figures written in stone. TV ad prices vary wildly from one sponsor to the next, depending upon the relationship a marketer or media-buying agency has with a particular network, or even whether a TV ad buy is part of a larger package that includes digital advertising.

Pore over the data. Mull over the fact that “Sunday Night Football” continues to be TV’s priciest ad buy, or that CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” – the most expensive program for advertisers on broadcast — commands more on in its scheduled Monday night airings (where it moved to make room for “Thursday Night Football”) than it does in its regular post-football Thursday slot. Marvel at the price advertisers seem to be paying for Fox’s flagging reality series “Utopia.” NBC’s “Blacklist,” to no one’s surprise, is among the biggest year-to-year gainers with a 62% spike in prices for its sophomore year.

Variety will post more findings based on its survey in the coming days. To start, here’s a list of the top 25 priciest shows, with year-to-year comparisons, followed by a night-by-night rundown of prices for broadcast programs scheduled to air this season in fall or midseason slots.

TV’S PRICIEST SHOWS:

NBC Sunday Night Football (NBC) 2014: $623,425; 2013: $628,000 (-0.8%)

Thursday Night Football (CBS) 2014: $492,500; 2013: n/a

The Walking Dead* (AMC) Sunday 2014: $413,695; 2013:$326,000 (+26.9%)

Monday Night Football (ESPN) 2014: $397,898; 2013: $408,000 (-2.48%)

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) Monday 2014: $327,885; 2013: n/a

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) Thursday 2014: $322,891; 2013: $317,160 (+1.8%)

The Blacklist (NBC) Monday 2014: $294,586; 2013: $174,943 (+62.7%)

American Idol (Fox) Wednesday: 2014 :$266,333; 2013: $281,600 (-5.4%)

The Voice (NBC) Monday 2014: $262,041; 2013: $259,240 (+1.08%)

The Voice (NBC) Tuesday 2014: $254,485; 2013: $273,714 (-7.02%)

American Idol (Fox)Thursday 2014: $249,566; 2013: $257,926 (-3.24%)

Modern Family (ABC) Wednesday 2014: $226,935; 2013 $249,025 (-8.9%)

State of Affairs (NBC) Monday 2014: $224,060; 2013: n/a

Scandal (ABC) Thursday 2014: $217,423; $2013:186,202 (+16.8%)

The Simpsons (Fox) Sunday 2014: 205,885; 2013: $221,571 (-7.1%)

The Blacklist (NBC) Thursday 2014: $200,166; 2013: n/a

Gotham (Fox) Monday 2014: $192,111; 2013: n/a

Sleepy Hollow (Fox) Monday 2014: $188,232; 2013: $131,933 (+42.7%)

New Girl (Fox) Tuesday 2014: $176,000; 2013: $224,366 (-21.6%)

The Following (Fox) Monday 2014: $168,437; 2013: $264,300 (-36.3%)

2 Broke Girls (CBS) Monday 2014: $166,533; 2013: $175,344 (-5.02%)

How To Get Away With Murder (ABC) Thursday 2014: $164,938; 2013: n/a

Gracepoint (Fox) Thursday 2014: $162,717; 2013: n/a

Family Guy (Fox) Sunday 2014: $160,240; 2013: $196,092 (-22.4%)

Saturday Night Football (ABC) Saturday 2014: $159,916; 2013: $115,000 (+39%)

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) Thursday 2014: $158,411; 2013: $209,542 (-24.4%)

*Price is for a package of ads that run across multiple airings of an episode

 

BROADCAST SERIES, NIGHT BY NIGHT:

SUNDAY

ABC
America’s Funniest Home Videos: $55,929
Once Upon A Time: $145,582
Galavant (midseason): $72,400
Resurrection: $146,676
American Crime (midseason): $93,475
Revenge: $115,224

CBS
60 Minutes: $97,433
Madam Secretary: $81,515
The Good Wife: $88,867
CSI: $96,747

FOX
Bob’s Burgers: $95,233
The Simpsons: $205,885
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: $150,367
Family Guy: $160,240
Mulaney: $120,579
Weird Loners (midseason): $114,993

NBC
Football Night in America: $90,233
Football Night in America 2: $132,770
NBC Sunday Night Football: $623,425

MONDAY

ABC
Dancing With the Stars: $127,617
The Bachelor (midseason): $115,105
Castle: $148,012

CBS
The Big Bang Theory: $327,885
2 Broke Girls: $166,533
Mom: $148,935
Scorpion: $146,272
NCIS: Los Angeles: $126,533

FOX
Gotham: $192,111
Wayward Pines: $159,992
Sleepy Hollow: $188,232
The Following: $168,437

NBC
The Voice: $262,041
The Blacklist: $284,586
State of Affairs (midseason): $224,060
The Apprentice: $64,900
Aquarius (midseason): $132,500

CW
The Originals: $33,961
Jane The Virgin: $22,803

TUESDAY

ABC
Selfie: $66,704
Manhattan Love Story: $62,370
Fresh Off The Boat (midseason): $67,642
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: $154,374
Marvel’s Agent Carter: $142,758
Forever: $82,815

CBS
NCIS: $143,204
NCIS: New Orleans: $125,382
Person of Interest: $132,738

FOX
Utopia: $145,789
New Girl: $176,280
The Mindy Project: $123,632
Last Man on Earth (midseason): $117,170

NBC
The Voice: $254,485
Marry Me: $117,461
One Big Happy (midseason): $90,000
About A Boy: $109,791
Mission Control (midseason): $145,000
Chicago Fire: $144,177

CW
The Flash: $56,378
Supernatural: $42,598

WEDNESDAY

ABC
The Middle: $131.021
The Goldbergs: $108,069
Modern Family: $226,935
Black-ish: $131,160
Nashville: $104,511
Whispers (midseason): $104,812

CBS
Survivor: $121,638
Criminal Minds: $131,963
Stalker: $113,817

FOX
Hell’s Kitchen: $109,440
American Idol (midseason): $266,333
Red Band Society: $117,232
Empire (midseason): $138,200

NBC
Mysteries of Laura: $84,465
Law & Order: SVU: $92,207
Chicago P.D.: $121,400

CW
Arrow: $49,799
The 100: $27,725

THURSDAY

ABC
Grey’s Anatomy: $159,411
The Taste (midseason): $49,275
Scandal: $217,423
How To Get Away With Murder: $164,938
Secrets & Lies (midseason): $98,000

CBS
NFL Thursday Night Football: $492,500
The Big Bang Theory (post-football): $322,891
The Millers (ost-football): $135,283
Two and A Half Men (post-football): $147,442
The McCarthys (post-football): $120,977
Elementary (post-football): $125,526

FOX
Bones: $124,093
American Idol (midseason): $249,566
Gracepoint: $162,717
Glee (midseason): $125,075

NBC
The Biggest Loser: $88,837
Parks & Recreation (midseason): $110,000
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (midseason): $71,666
Bad Judge: $91,000
A to Z: $91,580
The Blacklist (midseason): $200,166
Parenthood: $96,066
Allegiance (midseason): $122,850

CW
The Vampire Diaries: $71,965
Reign: $29,848

FRIDAY

ABC
Last Man Standing: $68,437
Cristela: $75,607
Shark Tank: $118,229
20/20: $68,420

CBS
The Amazing Race: $74,579
Hawaii Five-0: $69,128
Blue Bloods: $84,850

FOX
Masterchef Junior: $99,296
Utopia: $81,341
Backstrom (midseason): $89,890

NBC
Dateline NBC: $49,200
Grimm: $117,877
Constantine: $84,826

CW
Whose Line Is It Anyway: $26,255
Whose Line Repeat: $26,650
America’s Next Top Model: $26,114

SATURDAY

ABC
Saturday Night College Football: $159,916
Saturday Night Movie: $25,891

CBS
Crimetime Saturday: $22,212
Crimetime Saturday 2: $24,517
48 Hours: $33,163

Fox
Sports: $83,300
Drama Repeats 8 p.m.: $28,473
Drama Repeats 9 p.m.: $28,473

NBC
Encores 8 p.m.: $19,304
Encores 9 p.m.: $19,495
Saturday Night Live Encores: $26,500

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

  • Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers

    Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers From Skipping Fox Ad Breaks

    Fox is hoping to knit together the seconds-long divide between a TV program and the commercials that support it. During ad breaks for a few football broadcasts, tomorrow’s run of the Emmys and Wednesday’s season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” the network will kick off ad sessions with special show promos that display artistic renderings [...]

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content