Idol, Survivor, and Apprentice are three of the four most expensive shows on TV.

Idol, Survivor, and Apprentice are three of the four most expensive shows on TV.
Here’s the real reason for the proliferation of reality television: Four out of the five spots on the most expensive television show list are held by reality TV shows. Leading the pack is American Idol, which “costs on average $658,333 per 30-second spot, while the Tuesday edition is slightly cheaper at $620,000,” according to Advertising Age. ER follows the two editions of the FOX series, but in fourth place is Survivor Vanuatu, which is charging “$412,833 for a 30-second spot, compared with $390,367 during the 2003-2004 season.” The Apprentice is next, with an average cost of $409,877 for a 30-second ad. Other reality TV series of note: NBC’s forthcoming The Contender charges $330,000 for half a minute, while UPN’s America’s Next Top Model gets $92,045 for the same amount of advertising time. AdAge has a PDF chart of all fall series and their advertising costs.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.