How much does a TV commercial spot cost?

The expense of running a commercial spot on public television may vary dramatically. Pricing for televised advertising is generally based on how much airtime is available, how many viewers are expected to be watching during the airing of the spot and how many advertisers are coveting the time slot. You'll also find major price differences reflected in local vs. national television networks. However, with TV commercial ads going for anywhere from £0.6 to £1.7 million per spot, you are bound to find a time and channel to suit your advertising budget.

Popular Program Rates

Typically, the most desired and expensive -- excluding major event broadcasts -- television air time is available during the most popular television programs nationwide that are based on national Nielsen ratings. According to, in January 2008, a 30-second commercial televised during "American Idol" was £507,000, in December 2007 similar spots during "Grey's Anatomy" were going for £260,000 and 30-second spots aired during the 2004 season of "Friends" ran for about £307,775. In 2006, 30-second ads during "Smallville" cost £72,605, and spots during "Monday Night Football" on the ABC network commanded £209,950 each.

Less-Watched Programming Rates

Gaebler Resources for Entrepreneurs suggests that you can save a significant amount of advertising dollars by sponsoring less-watched television programs on local cable networks. According to Gaebler, in 2011 you may be able to acquire airtime on local channels for as little as £3 per spot. Typically, daytime and late night ads on cable stations are comparatively inexpensive, offering ads that generate roughly 1,000 views per £3 spent; essentially reaching more than 10,000 viewers for £32 to £39. Slots purchased between midnight and five am are often sold for as little as 60p on small local networks.

Negotiations And Pricing Adjustments

Though prime-time broadcasting and 30-second spots are typically the preferred methods of TV commercial advertising, you'll find plenty of room for negotiation to create the most suitable television ad campaign for your specific needs and marketing budget. You can sometimes find "in-between" air times for ads that are more expensive -- and more visible -- than late night ads yet far less expensive -- and less visible -- than prime-time ads. With TV commercial spots running 24 hours a day at £32 to £507,000 for a 30-second spot, you will find a considerable amount of room for negotiation. You may also adjust the time span of your ad; 15, 30 or 60 seconds in most instances.

Major Event Televised Ads

The most expensive air time for television commercial spots is typically found during prime-time major events broadcasting from major TV networks like CSB, NBC, ABC or Fox. Such events may include the Olympics, sports playoffs or national holiday parades. CNN Money reports that the average cost for a 30 second commercial spot on the CBS network during 2007's "Super Bowl XLI" was £1.7 million. In 2006 the same spot on ABC was only slightly less at £1.6 million.

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About the Author

Michelle Renee is a professional trainer and quality assurance consultant in the career, education and customer service industries, with two decades of experience in food/beverage and event coordinating management. Renee has been published by Lumino and Career Flight as well as various food, education and business publications.