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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]

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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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