In the race for ad dollars, NBC sets new record

Monday, October 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

By Ed Bark / The Dallas Morning News


Ad-vantage NBC.

Paced by a record-setting $620,000 for a 30-second commercial on ER, the Peacock network continues to make more advertising money than its rivals.

In fact, ER's latest asking price, up from $545,000 last season, might be enough for its home network to finally make a little money on the show. Thwarting attempts to pirate its top-rated program, NBC has been paying Warner Bros. Television an inflated $13 million per episode since the 1998-99 season. At the new rate, 11 minutes of commercials per hour will bring in $13.6 million for each ER. Hey, NBC, keep the change.

NBC has five of prime-time's six most expensive shows, according to annual estimates in Advertising Age. The network's Friends, which joined ER on NBC's 1994 fall schedule, is No. 2 with a $540,000 price tag for each half-minute spot. Following are NBC's Will & Grace ($480,000), NBC's Just Shoot Me ($465,000), CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond ($460,000), NBC's new Cursed ($410,000), CBS' Becker ($365,000), ABC's Drew Carey and Monday Night Football ($360,000 each) and Fox's Ally McBeal and The Simpsons ($335,000 each).

The five NBC series make up its still-potent Thursday night schedule. That's why new tenant Will & Grace has vaulted to the No. 3 spot and is getting $255,000 more than it did on Tuesdays last year. Meanwhile, last fall's third most expensive show, NBC's Frasier, has seen its asking price dip from $466,000 to $330,000 since moving from Thursdays to Tuesdays. Location, location, location.

The price of success also is driven by demographics. Case in point: CBS' Diagnosis Murder, which has the oldest audience in prime-time and continues to pay the price. It's getting a rock bottom $90,000 a spot this season, down from $105,000 last fall. And that doesn't even include a prescription drug benefit.

Prime-time's No. 1 show last season, ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, likewise is getting a relative pittance. Its increasingly older audience has lowered the average asking price for the show's four editions to $271,000 a half-minute. That's almost $90,000 less than the younger-skewing Drew Carey, which ranked 23rd last season and drew barely half the audience of Tuesday's Millionaire.