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American Idol’s ads are TV’s most expensive at $623,000; DWTS, Survivor get a third of that

American Idol makes more money than any other prime-time TV show, bringing in an average of $623,000 for a 30-second ad and $7 million every 30 minutes, Forbes reports. In other words, the eight-minute overrun last week was worth about $1.867 million. That’s down from the $745,000 per 30 seconds Fox earned for season six.

In second place and way behind in terms of revenue is Dancing with the Stars; its results show draws $205,000 for a 30-second commercial, which lands it in sixth place out of the top 15 most-expensive shows, while the actual performance episode only gets $196,000 per 30-second ad, making it 7th and drawing a total of $4.8 million an hour. No we know why there’s an hour of nonsense filler: it pays the bills, making $5 million an hour.

One of the two other reality shows to make the top 15 list was Survivor Gabon, which made $4.2 million an hour for CBS last fall, bringing in $204,000 for a 30-second ad. That’s the same overall revenue as CSI, but while the drama gets more viewers, its 30-second ads cost less: $201,000.

Forbes qualifies these numbers by calling them “estimates” and says that “[t]he amount individual buyers have actually handed over for these spots vary, depending on such things as the advertisers’ perceptions about the value of a show, the timing and size of their purchases and their clout with the respective network.” In addition, Forbes reports that “as much as 80% of these purchases are made ahead of the actual TV season” so “many of the purchasing decisions rely on anticipation, expectation and past results rather than actual in-season performance.”

Finally, there was Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which makes $4 million an hour and costs advertisers $169,000 per 30-second spot. No word how much extra it brings in from all the Sears whoring.

TV’s Biggest Moneymakers [Forbes]

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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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