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.

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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