How much ads for reality shows cost

A report about commercials on broadcast TV reveals how much advertisers are likely to pay for 30-second ads on reality shows that are airing this fall and next spring.

Ad Week reports on the ad prices “using data from as many as six different media-buying agencies and other sources, found that some spots in ‘Idol’ were going for as much as $640,000,” but notes that “prices should be taken as directional indicators, not hard negotiating figures,” and that they can vary, such as for reality series’ finales.

Keeping that in mind, some of these are pretty surprising (Secret Millionaire gets more than The Amazing Race) and interesting (the high prices for Fox’s X Factor were based on predictions of ratings, which TV critics note Fox will likely have to offer “make-goods,” or ads they give to advertisers in because of lower-than-expected ratings).

Here are all the reality series from Ad Age’s chart, which I’ve ranked from most expensive to least expensive:

  • American Idol, $502,900
  • American Idol results, $468,100
  • The X-Factor, $320,669
  • The X-Factor results, $283,034
  • Dancing With the Stars, $233,482
  • Dancing with the Stars results, $216,703
  • The Voice, $206,500
  • The Bachelor, $177,150
  • The Apprentice, $145,500
  • Survivor, $144,478
  • Secret Millionaire, $141,600
  • The Amazing Race, $124,091
  • The Biggest Loser, $106,153
  • The Sing-Off, $81,541
  • Extreme Makeover, $73,039
  • Shark Tank, $67,227
  • America’s Next Top Model, $61,315
  • Kitchen Nightmares, $61,150
  • H8R, $34,743

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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, 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.