American Idol’s 30-second ads average $745,000

If you have three quarters of a million dollars, that will buy you 30 seconds during American Idol: FOX charges an average of $745,000 per 30-second ad, making it “[t]he most expensive airtime on television, period,” Fortune reports. That’s also about $40,000 more per ad than last year.

The Tuesday night performance show episodes, which are more popular than the results shows, earn about $16.39 million each as a result of those ad prices. On Wednesdays, “airtime is 13% cheaper,” when it costs an average of $645,000, according to Fortune. That results in revenue of $14.19 million.

Compare that to other reality shows: Survivor Cook Islands made $6.66 million per episode from charging $333,000 per ad,
The Amazing Race 10 earned $3.02 million per episode and charged $144,000 for a half of a minute, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition earns $4.58 million by charging $199,000 for an ad, and Dancing with the Stars makes $6.27 million for the performance shows ($179,000 per ad) and $3.94 million for the results shows ($164,000 per ad).

Many of those shows are competitive with popular scripted shows; for example, Grey’s Anatomy earns $6.74 million by charging $281,000 for 30 seconds of air time.

TV’s Biggest Moneymakers [Fortune]
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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, 37, 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.