How much does television advertising really cost?

Updated February 21, 2017

The true cost of television advertising depends on several important factors, including the length of the ad, the time of day the ad runs, the TV network's programming around the ad, and the size of the company buying the ad. A business with a national presence is willing to spend more money on advertising than a local business, and will therefore pay higher prices for television ad spots. With so many variables affecting television advertising, it may simply come down to how much a company is willing to pay, that determines the final price.

National Television Commercials

According to Gaebler, an online resource for entrepreneurs, as of January 2011 the average cost of a standard 30-second television commercial, run all across the country, is about £227,500. This cost includes factors such as paying the director of the commercial, any actors involved in the project, and all associated crew members. This cost may be too high for small- to medium-sized businesses, who must instead turn to local media outlets to help create advertisements for television.

Local Network Spots

Advertising using local television network stations can be much more affordable for a smaller business than shelling out for a national television spot. It also makes more sense market-wise, since the ads are geared to consumers in the business' actual market. According to Entrepreneur, a local television network may produce a 30-second commercial for a local business for free, if the business agrees to air the commercial on the network's stations for a fixed amount of time. However, Gaebler's website warns against such arrangements, as the network could create a low-quality commercial that might actually harm the reputation of the business. That's why it's important to investigate the TV network's production methods, before committing to the commercial.

The Time Slot

The price of advertising with a television network can vary greatly, depending on what time the commercial runs, and what programs are running when the commercial airs. For example, according to CBS News, the price of a 30-second time slot during the 2010 NFL Super Bowl was between £1.6 million and £1.8 million. By comparison, a local commercial, running on a less-popular program during prime time hours, may only cost the business £65,000. Local advertising during the day can be even cheaper, running from £58 to £975.

Advertising Contracts

Signing a contract to advertise with a certain network can garner your business discounts on advertising fees. According to Entrepreneur, your business can generally secure a 5 per cent discount if you choose to sign a six-month advertising contract with the network. This means commercials for your business' products will run on no other station. A 10 per cent discount can usually be negotiated, if your business chooses to sign an annual advertising contract with a particular network.

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About the Author

Jonathan Lister has been a writer and content marketer since 2003. His latest book publication, "Bullet, a Demos City Novel" is forthcoming from J Taylor Publishing in June 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing and poetics from Naropa University.