If Total Viewers Matter, How Come Advertising Costs So Much More on 'Glee' Than 'NCIS'?

Categories: 1-Featured,TV Advertising

Written By

December 6th, 2010

Total viewers don’t matter to advertisers who only want to pay for younger viewers during broadcast primetime.  I know a lot of people can't stand that.  Though I am an old man feebly crawling forward on my way to the other side of the great 18-49 barrier, the way that primetime TV advertising works doesn’t bother me.  But I understand it bothers some and it’s their right to be bothered by it if they choose.

I’m much less understanding of the people who simply refuse to believe it’s true that at least when it comes to broadcast primetime advertising, it’s viewers under 50 who matter, not viewers over 50.

Let me disclaim that I’ve seen practically every episode of NCIS, and have never seen an episode of Glee.  I have nothing against Glee and I consider its ratings phenomenal.   That’s no slight on NCIS, which has very good ratings and makes fistfuls of cash for CBS.  NCIS has also had an amazing run of off-net syndication on USA.

In this year’s Advertising Age survey for the cost of 30 second spots on programs, Glee was estimated to cost $272,694 per 30 second spotNCIS was estimated to cost $150,708.     That’s more than an 80% premium for Glee.

Advertising Age’s numbers are based on survey data of ads purchased before the season even started,  but there was plenty of data from last year to price both shows.  I don’t get bent out of shape about the estimates because I know whatever the Advertising Age figure for Lone Star is, Fox isn’t making it!  I see those numbers as ballpark directional indicators, and generally good enough for discussion purposes, at least at the season beginning of the season.

I randomly selected Tuesday, November 9 when both shows aired new episodes:

  • NCIS beat Glee by 82% in total viewers
  • Glee beat NCIS by 15% with adults 18-49
  • Glee beat NCIS by 92% with adults 18-34

When it comes to viewers age 50+, there’s only one reasonable conclusion to draw.  For the unreasonable, you might try to see if you can get Advertising Age's name changed to Advertising Ageist.

 
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