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TV ratings don't dictate commercial prices, Ad Age survey says

October 22, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • "NCIS" has the biggest audience but not the most expensive commercials.
"NCIS" has the biggest audience but not the most expensive commercials. (CBS )

The most-watched TV drama is "NCIS" on CBS. The biggest comedy is "The Big Bang Theory," also on CBS.

So those shows should be the most expensive to advertise on, right?

Wrong!

Advertising Age has come out with its annual look at what commercials cost on broadcast TV shows. Even though CBS has some of the most popular shows on television, it is not getting the most money for commercials on its hot programs.

A 30-second spot on "NCIS" costs $166,649, according to Advertising Age. A commercial on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" runs $545,142. So far this season, "NCIS" is averaging 20.5 million viewers compared with 20.4 million for "Sunday Night Football."

It costs almost $331,000 to advertise on ABC's "Modern Family," which is about $60,000 more than a spot on "The Big Bang Theory," even though the latter has a bigger audience.

The reason "Modern Family" and "Sunday Night Football" get more for commercials than "NCIS" or "Big Bang Theory" has to do with Madison Avenue's obsession with 18-49 viewers. "Sunday Night Football" and "Modern Family" have more younger viewers than "NCIS" and "Big Bang Theory."

Although older viewers tend to have more money to spend on toothpaste and mouthwash, advertisers believe younger viewers are easier to persuade to try new products. That's why a premium is placed on the 18-49 demographic.

Given how some shows are performing this season, advertisers may be asking for their money back. The price to advertise on Fox's "New Girl" jumped from $125,488 last season to $320,940 this season. So far this season, "New Girl" is down more than 40% in viewers and 36% in adults 18-49.

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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