Which TV Shows Make the Most Money?

Excluding NFL football, comedies bring in the highest ad rates — and networks are laughing all the way to the bank

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Monty Brinton / CBS

Q: Who’s ultimately footing those hefty salaries earned by those young actors and actresses on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory?

A: Eager advertisers, willing to shell out out $326,260 for 30 seconds of ad time every Thursday night at 8 p.m.

According to an AdWeek report, the most-watched comedy on television leads all season-long shows in cost per 30-second advertising spot, easily outpacing the second most expensive spots on television: The Voice at $264,575.

While NFL football really dominates the pricing structure—a late Sunday afternoon game on Fox will fetch $595,000 and NBC’s Sunday Night Football crushes primetime by demanding $570,000—the season doesn’t last the entire year, even if each game does stretch for hours. Parking football on the bench for its seasonal structure, steers us right back to a mix heavy in comedy for the 10 shows that top $200,000 per 30 seconds.

The Voice actually hits the list twice: in addition to the main Monday show, its follow-up Tuesday show earns NBC an additional $229,167 per half-minute commercial. The top four shows represent the four big networks, with CBS roosting on top, NBC’s The Voice with a slight edge over ABC’s  Modern Family and Fox’s The Simpsons.

(MORE: Fall TV 2013: The New Hits)

Eight of the top 10 shows are either The Voice or a comedy — ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy ($206,075) and Scandal ($200,970) are the only two dramas to make the list. Scandal is also the only 10 p.m. show in the top 10.

A trio of new shows have made some noise (and money), with NBC’s The Blacklist earning $198,667 to top all newcomers, CBS’s Robin Williams-led The Crazy Ones ($175,200) leading new comedies and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ($169,730) grabbing a new demographic for ABC.

With the top 10 all breaking the $200,000-per-30-seconds threshold, there’s still spendy places for your media buy, with 32 shows charging more than $100,000. Of those in the $100,000 to $200,000 range, you’ll find eight of them on Monday and six each on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. As for Friday? That’s where the thrifty ad buyers are, with no show charging more than $85,000 for 30 seconds.

The top-10 full-season shows:

1. The Big Bang Theory, $326,260, Thursday, 8 p.m., CBS

2. The Voice, $264,575, Monday, 8 p.m., NBC

3. Modern Family, $257,435, Wednesday, 9 p.m., ABC

4. The Simpsons, $256,963 Sunday, 8 p.m., Fox

5. New Girl, $231,570, Tuesday, 9 p.m., Fox

6. The Voice, $229,167, Tuesday, 9 p.m., NBC

7. Family Guy, $223,145, Sunday, 9 p.m., Fox

8. Grey’s Anatomy, $206,075, Thursday, 9 p.m., ABC

9. Two And A Half Men, $204,176, Thursday, 9:30 p.m., CBS

10. Scandal, $200,970, Thursday, 10 p.m., ABC


With Friends being the exception, no quality comedy sitcoms have premiered in the new millennium.


   Most of you tv savvy Nielsen ratings fans know that if a star wants more $$ and threatens not to show up to tape a weekly show,it usually means the star will get more $$ and the cast around the star may also get raises. It started with Carrol O'Connor as Archie Bunker in All in the Family. It reached a peak with the cast of Friends. And we kind of understand that even if you do not threaten to hold out,it has worked fine for Mark Harmon of NCIS,star and executive producer earning $38 million total compensation per year. I mean CBS gives David Letterman and his Worldwide Pants Company $30 million a year for a not very quality minded 1135pm movie star and music gig broadcast followed by the quirky Mr. Ferguson with his skeleton buddy,Geoff,his dancing horse,Secretariat and the worst lighted show on tv. And yes,we did get Ray Romano's wonderful Raymond hit thanks to almost awful Dave,an undeserving Kennedy Center awards recipient. So,if you are wondering why all those extra ads have become normal at the end of the CBS Evening News or during Dave's late night show,the reason is simple. CBS is paying more to Warner Bros. which produces Big Bang Theory and many others via Chuck Lorre and you don't see CBS executives salaries declining from $40 million plus levels,either. Certainly not old Sumner Redstone in Beverly Hills trying to preserve his Kingdom of Viacom,CBS and the movie chain National Amusements which built his empire that led to his besting Barry Diller for control of Viacom. So,as long as the syndication profits remain as is,the networks will just throw some more stuff out there and maybe one or two will stick with viewers.Although,NBC is finally trying a different approach to its awful singing reality shows with the Blacklist,Hannibal and in the old days Friday Night Lights and even Medium. Too bad it bailed on Harry's Law but I hear David E. Kelley is hanging in there with some new guy named Robin Williams and a lady named Buffy,Thursdays at 9pm on CBS.