American Idol 8 made $850 million in ads, down from AI7; Paula wanted more than Seacrest

American Idol, the country’s most-popular show, earned less than it did the previous year from advertisements, but still an impressive amount in a recession and more than any other series.

In a story about the judges’ contract negotiations, The Los Angeles Times reports that the series “took in almost $850 million in advertising revenue last season, more than any other television show, despite the weak economy.” In 2008, American Idol 7, however, “generated $903.3 million in advertising.”

Also last season, the show “averaged 26.6 million viewers per episode, and advertisers shelled out more than $700,000 for a 30-second commercial,” the paper reports, citing TNS Media Intelligence.

As to the judges, the paper says Simon “Cowell’s deal is moving along smoothly, negotiations with Abdul have crashed. … Abdul’s current annual salary is around $4 million, people close to the show say, and she wants to be higher on the food chain than Seacrest and initially asked for as much as $20 million, although that has since come down to $12 million.”

Simon “currently makes about $36 million annually and still has another year on his pact, is looking at a new multiyear deal that would boost his pay to the $45-million range,” the paper reported.

If those reports are accurate, at least Paula is aware that she’s far less valuable than Simon, although it’s hard to imagine him judging without her to kick around.

‘American Idol’ stars in talks for bigger pay [Los Angeles Times]

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.