Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Idol worship

Last week, SBB discussed the $2.7 million average price tag for a Super Bowl XLII ad slot. And while the Big Game still commands the biggest dollar by far, it's only a once-a-year opportunity for the network and its affiliates. That's what makes American Idol such a phenomenon. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the show begins a new season tonight unmatched in its ability to bring in ad revenue week after week:

[A]ccording to TNS Media Intelligence, which tracks ad spending, "Idol" last year collected $810 million in revenue, up 39% from 2006. Some analysts estimate the show's ad revenue could soar 20% this year. […]

Fox initially sold commercials in this year's "Idol" for as much as $750,000 per 30-second spot. As the writer's strike has dragged on, advertisers have been shelling out $1 million or more for a single commercial that would run as the show's grand finale draws closer, according to people familiar with the situation.
No other series on television commands such premiums. Commercial spots in original episodes of other highly rated shows, including CBS' "Survivor" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," sell for $250,000 to $450,000.
As with Super Bowl spots, keep in mind that this price tag reflects the national rate. Rates for a local ad insertion are much lower, but still proportional to the size of the show's audience. In other words, aside from the Super Bowl, American Idol is still the most expensive buy in just about every market.

This season,
Idol is stronger than ever, since the writer's strike has resulted in weaker interest in sitcoms and dramas among ad buyers. This is causing a ripple effect that benefits Fox as a whole, says the Times:
Higher ratings for "Idol" means more viewers will see promotions for Fox's other programs. […] [Also,] Other Fox shows that run on the same night as "Idol" enjoy a big ratings bounce. "House" faced cancellation when it debuted in 2004 before blossoming into a hit after it was scheduled to follow "Idol." Fox now uses the singing contest as a launch pad for other shows. Fox-owned local TV stations also benefit from the "halo effect:" "Idol" delivers viewers to the stations' 10 p.m. newscasts and gives stations fresh clips to use during their morning programs.
One thing's certain: with both Super Bowl XLII and Idol in its stable, Fox executives will be signing "We're in the Money" when it's their turn at the mike.

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