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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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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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