Last week, Ad Age magazine unleashed its annual survey of how much a 30-second commercial costs on every show on network television. As you would assume, with live viewing decreasing every year, and the power of the networks eroding on the whole, Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi found that many shows took hits compared to last year’s survey. Some shockingly so.
But there are exceptions! The phenomenon that is CBS’s The Big Bang Theory shot to the top of scripted shows. And advertisers seem to believe in this year’s American Idol judging panel more than they did in last year’s. Shows such as ABC’s Scandal and NBC’s The Voice also got their just rewards, particularly since they both attract real-time audiences.
I’ve ranked the shows below according to Ad Age data from most expensive to least. Along with last year’s Ad Age numbers for each show, I’ve also included the season-to-date Live+Same Day ratings for the first four weeks of the season so we can look at whether the advertisers made good bets. The networks are encouraging the press to use Nielsen’s more cumulative measurements, such as Live+3 or Live+7 numbers. For journalists who write for consumers, it’s absolutely worth looking at how many people really watch a show, whether on television, VOD, or streaming. But Nielsen doesn’t offer those. And once you really try to figure out a true audience, why just three days? Or seven days? Why not 30? Or 365? Many of us have probably saved up shows on our DVRs and then watched them all at once.
And when we did, we probably did not watch the commercials. Which is why I chose to use the Live+Same Day ratings here. Three more housekeeping things: 1) I didn’t include shows that have already been canceled — We Are Men, Ironside, and a few more — because… well, they have no ads anymore for you to wonder about! But I’ll put those numbers at the very bottom. 2) In evaluating how shows are doing, ratings-wise, their performances depend on what network they’re on and what night they’re on. A strong show on Fridays will likely pale in comparison to hits on other nights of the week; and what’s considered a success for NBC is very different from one on CBS. Finally, 3) Ad Age has a complicated methodology for how it gathered its information, and I will append that to the bottom as well.
Without further ado, here is the ranked list. Only live-readers in the 18–49 demographic are allowed, though.
1. Sunday Night Football $593,694 (NBC, Sundays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $545,142
Season-to-date ratings: 22.2 million total viewers, 8.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Last year, NBC’s Sunday Night Football overtook American Idol, which had been the costliest show for five years before that. Now there’s no contest. Sports — and mostly football — have become one of the only guaranteed live viewing experiences.
2. American Idol $355,943 (Midseason, Fox, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $340,825
Season-to-date ratings: We’ll have to wait until Jan. 15.
Verdict: American Idol’s ad rates fell sharply last year when the Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj/Keith Urban panel was to take over. And so did its ratings, so that was the right bet for advertisers. But now the return of Jennifer Lopez appears to have stirred some excitement. Also, Idol is likely benefitting for advertisers’ desperation for live viewers. (The Thursday results show this season is getting $289,942 per spot, which is slightly down from last year’s $296,062.)
3. The Big Bang Theory $316,912 (Thursdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $275,573
Season-to-date ratings: 18.2 million total viewers, 5.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: This show has an incredible growth story, and is in its seventh season the No. 1 scripted network show in the 18–49 demographic.
4. The Voice $294,038 (NBC, Mondays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $239,866
Season-to-date ratings: 14.4 million total viewers, 4.7 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: So far, our list directly reflects the season’s ratings: The Voice is the No. 3 show among 18- to 49-year-olds (football is not a show!). This is the first time that the show has been in Ad Age’s Top 10. And the Tuesday night installment is bringing in $278,987 for each spot, up from last year’s $225,337.
5. Modern Family $281,951 (Wednesdays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $330,908
Season-to-date ratings: 11.1 million total viewers, 4.1 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Modern Family is a big gainer in Nielsen’s aggregated audience measurements, such as Live+3 and Live+7, meaning the number of people who watched after three days and seven days. Which is great for the show’s strength. But less great, perhaps, for bringing in ad dollars, since time-shifting is not in advertisers’ favor.
6. New Girl $236,857 (Fox, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $320,940
Season-to-date ratings: 3.8 million total viewers, 2.0 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Here is where we veer dramatically from this season’s ratings rankings: New Girl is down significantly in viewership in its third season.
7. The Simpsons $231,532 (Fox, Sundays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $286,131
Season-to-date ratings: 6.4 million total viewers, 2.9 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The ad rates for The Simpsons are down almost 20% year over year. But? Let us bow to The Simpsons in its 25th season! Twenty-fifth!
8. The Following $211,832 (Midseason, Fox, Mondays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $194,425
Season-to-date ratings: Not yet! (Season 2 premieres Monday, Jan. 20.)
Verdict: This pitch black thriller was an unknown last year, but now advertisers know what they’ll be getting: 1) A hit in its first season and 2) a ton of scares and violence. Just guessing that if it weren’t for that second part we would see more of a spike here.
9. Scandal $207,053 (ABC, Thursdays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $139,668
Season-to-date ratings: 9.7 million total viewers, 3.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: A well-deserved big jump here for Season 3 of Scandal, which has manufactured a rare and valuable live-viewing community on social media.
10. Family Guy $206,551 (Fox, Sundays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $276,690
Season-to-date ratings: 5.2 million total viewers, 2.6 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: At this time last year, Family Guy was getting a 3.4 in 18–49. Fox’s Sunday animation block is taking a hit this season. But these numbers are still strong, relatively.
11. Grey’s Anatomy $204,658 (ABC, Thursdays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $226,707
Season-to-date ratings: 9.1 million total viewers, 3.1 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Grey’s Anatomy is down, naturally, in its 10th season. But the Shonda Rhimes show is still one of the only strong dramas on the networks in the 18–49 demographic.
12. The Blacklist $201,650 (NBC, Mondays at 10 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 11.5 million total viewers, 3.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The list’s first new entry! I don’t think The Blacklist is a fake hit, but when The Voice goes on hiatus, we will see how strong it is on its own. Among new shows, it’s slightly behind Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I suspect it will overtake the ABC show soon. Or more precisely, S.H.I.E.L.D. will continue to erode while the James Spader thriller stays steady.
13. Two and a Half Men $183,904 (CBS, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.)
Last year: $247,261
Season-to-date ratings: 9.7 million total viewers, 2.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The long-running hit comedy, which switched time slots this season, has experienced a fairly precipitous — and for haters, gratifying — collapse. Last year at this time, Men was drawing 12.5 million viewers and 3.7 among 18- to 49-year-olds. (It was airing after Big Bang.) It’s an expensive show. Could this be its final season?
14. The X Factor $179,034 (Fox, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $245,335
Season-to-date ratings: 7.6 million total viewers, 2.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Let’s face it: The X Factor is never going to be the success Simon Cowell wanted when he left Idol behind. These ratings aren’t terrible, especially with so much else across the network schedule in triage mode. But the show is down quite a bit from last year. (The rates for the Thursday results show are $169,255 per ad.)
15. 2 Broke Girls $175,506 (CBS, Mondays at 9 p.m., will move to 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 4)
Last year: $269,235
Season-to-date ratings: 8 million total viewers, 2.5 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: CBS bet big on new comedies this season, with mixed results (more on that throughout the list). But it’s also having some real problems with its established sitcoms, like Two and a Half Men and 2 Broke Girls. Compared with last season at this time, 2 Broke Girls is down a full ratings point in Live+Same Day ratings.
16. The Millers $174,442 (CBS, Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 12.4 million total viewers, 3.2 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The Millers has the great slot post-Big Bang. And it does lose a good portion of those viewers. But given that there have been comedies that have been totally rejected by the Big Bang audience, I think CBS is happy with The Millers, which is the No. 1 new comedy of the season.
17. Once Upon a Time $173,062 (ABC, Sundays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $203,537
Season-to-date ratings: 7.8 million total viewers, 2.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Another story of ratings erosion this season, OUAT is down a full ratings point compared with the same period last year. A 2.4 in Live+Same Day ratings is nothing to sneeze at in this weakened world, but given that ABC felt like this show was strong enough to build a franchise around it (launching the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland spin-off this season), the drop in advertising interest in this show makes sense.
18. Glee $171,757 (Fox, Thursdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $224,345
Season-to-date ratings: 5.6 million total viewers, 2.2 in 18 to 49
Verdict: Glee is down, of course, because most things are. But compared with a lot of other shows, it’s fairly stable in its penultimate season.
20. How I Met Your Mother $165,999 (CBS, Mondays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $187,653
Season-to-date ratings: 8.4 million total viewers, 3.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: For its first few seasons, HIMYM was a show on the bubble for renewal. While it’s never been a smash, it’s an example of stability that has evolved into strength. The show is in its final season, and the way things are going with the Monday comedy block on CBS, the network will really miss it.
21. NCIS $160,264 (CBS, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $166,649
Season-to-date ratings: 19.3 million total viewers, 3.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: In total audience, NCIS is the No. 1 drama by a large margin. It’s been on for 11 seasons now, and barely decreased its year-over-year price compared to 2012–13. (As opposed to most of the other aged shows on this list.)
22. Bones $159,932 (Fox, Mondays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $166,247
Season-to-date ratings: 7.2 million total viewers, 2.1 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Pretty much every season, Fox announces at its spring upfront that it’s going to move Bones to Fridays, which would probably signal the end of the show. And every year, it doesn’t actually move Bones, because it needs its loyal audience to stay where it is. Will it move to Fridays later this fall, as is supposed to happen? I wouldn’t bet on it!
23. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D $151,305 (ABC, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 9.1 million total viewers, 3.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: S.H.I.E.L.D was by far the most ambitious and hyped show of the new season. It started out strong and has fallen since. Will this show find a floor? And more important for fans who want it to be better, will it find its voice?
24. Dads $148,188 (Fox, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 3.4 million total viewers, 1.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: On Friday, Fox announced that it was picking up a full season of the execrable Dads. With these ratings, will we have to see all 22 on Tuesday nights? I have hope we will not.
25. Brooklyn Nine-Nine $146,697 (Fox, Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 3.6 million total viewers, 1.6 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The Dads/Brooklyn Nine-Nine block is in such a tough time slot against S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC and NCIS on CBS. That Brooklyn Nine-Nine builds in audience after Dads is a sign of strength for this show, which is clearly why Fox picked it to air after the Super Bowl along with New Girl.
26. Almost Human $145,613 (Fox, Mondays at 8 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: Not on yet! Nov. 17.
Verdict: This is the show that will allegedly push Bones to Fridays. But considering that plan was delayed, we will see what happens to Almost Human. My feeling is that it won’t catch on, and could, therefore, hurt Sleepy Hollow, which is Fox’s bright spot this season. But who knows! That’s why we play the game. And by “game” I mean “watch TV” and by “we” I mean… I have no idea who I mean.
28. About a Boy $146,203 (Midseason, NBC, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: NBC hasn’t yet announced its midseason schedule. I do wonder whether About a Boy will stay on Tuesdays considering how terribly NBC’s Thursday comedies are doing? Or maybe it will stay there because Thursdays are a slaughterhouse.
Verdict: Tuesdays against New Girl? Hmm.
29. Mom $139,070 (CBS, Mondays at 9:30 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 7.3 million total viewers, 2.2 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Don’t get attached to this particular Mom. Just not good enough for a CBS comedy.
30. Resurrection $138,022 (Midseason, ABC, Sundays at 10 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: None yet!
Verdict: I kind of liked the pilot for this odd show, which is a limited series about dead people returning to a small town. (Or people who were thought to be dead? And haven’t aged?)
31. Sleepy Hollow $137,610 (Fox, Mondays at 9 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 8 million viewers, 2.9 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: This fun, witty, utterly absurd reimagining of Ichabod Crane and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow will be bringing in more ad dollars at the upfront next season. It has already been renewed!
32. Person of Interest $136,710 (CBS, Tuesdays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $185,003
Season-to-date ratings: 12.3 million total viewers, 2.1 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: CBS’s decision to shift Person of Interest from its plum spot last season on Thursdays at 9 p.m. has definitely hurt the show’s ratings, and it’s unclear whether it’s paying off for them with the comedy block yet. (In the case of Two and a Half Men’s drop, I would guess it is not.) But the show is doing well enough: 10 p.m. is hard these days, unless you’re Scandal.
33. Bob’s Burgers $135,733 (Fox, Sundays at 8:30 p.m.)
Last year: $153,115
Season-to-date ratings: 4.3 million total viewers, 2.0 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: A steady little show that most people probably don’t know exists.
35. Chicago Fire $130,963 (NBC, Tuesdays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $60,058
Season-to-date ratings: 8.3 million total viewers, 2.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Last season, Chicago Fire was one of the few things NBC had to be truly happy about, and it seems to be yielding rewards for that in its jump in ad dollars. That NBC is spinning it off so soon — Chicago PD will make its debut sometime midseason — seems quick. But procedural shows that work are definitely much-needed over there (Ironside is already gone, after all).
36. Intelligence $129,422 (Midseason, CBS, Mondays at 10 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: It has to be on first!
Verdict: This CBS action drama starring Josh Holloway stands a better chance than Hostages, I imagine.
37. Super Fun Night $127,848 (ABC, Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 7 million total viewers, 2.6 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Before this week, I would have said this tragic comedy starring Rebel Wilson would go to an early grave, but it stabilized this past Wednesday night. Still, is it worth ABC wasting the Modern Family lead-in for such a weak show?
38. Elementary $127,700 (CBS, Thursdays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $141,690
Season-to-date ratings: 9.3 million total viewers, 1.9 million in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Elementary’s ratings are down this season, in part because it no longer has Person of Interest as a compatible and strong lead-in and in part because Scandal has become a monster. But I can’t imagine CBS is actually fretting over this particular drop.
39. The Family Guide $125,900 (Midseason, NBC, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: It’s not on yet!
Verdict: I haven’t seen this show, and only know its premise (J.K. Simmons plays a blind dad), and that Parker Posey quit the show after it got picked up (she was to play the mom). I also know NBC’s recent luck with comedies. I will leave it at that.
43. Survivor $120,822 (CBS, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $149,510
Season-to-date ratings: 9.9 million total viewers, 2.5 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The post-Super Bowl premiere of Season 2 of Survivor drew 45.1 million viewers in 2001. Survivor is not what it was! But it’s an incredibly reliable rating for CBS.
44. Criminal Minds $119,052 (CBS, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $141,521
Season-to-date ratings: 11.1 million total viewers, 2.7 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: In May, the core cast of Criminal Minds signed new two-year deals. People don’t talk about this show very often. But it is clearly a valuable property for CBS.
45. The Mindy Project $117,987 (Fox, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.)
Last year: $161,740
Season-to-date ratings: 2.9 million total viewers, 1.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The total audience for The Mindy Project — it’s just an insanely low number for a network show. The demographic rating isn’t terrible considering that fact and, as with New Girl, Fox aims with Mindy at an upscale audience. But simultaneously, I don’t know how long the two shows will be paired. (And then I wonder what would happen to The Mindy Project.)
46. Revenge $114,002 (ABC, Sundays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $155,051
Season-to-date ratings: 6.8 million total viewers, 1.9 18 to 49.
Verdict: Qualitatively, Revenge is trying to come back from its woeful second season. Ratings are down, though, compared to the same period in Season 2.
48. Nashville $107,591 (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $142,833
Season-to-date ratings: 6 million total viewers, 1.8 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Nashville is very on-brand for ABC, there are fun things about this show, and — Connie Britton! But it wasn’t a quantifiable success last year, is down this year, and advertisers seem to have noticed that.
49. Dancing With the Stars $106,342 (ABC, Mondays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $160,466
Season-to-date ratings: 13.2 million, 2.1 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Because of DWTS’ older audience, which really became a factor for the show last year, it is now taking up less time on ABC’s schedule. And for a show that attracts a large audience, the price for ads is low. The median age of this current cycle is 62.1, making it the second-oldest show on television (Blue Bloods is No. 1 with 62.8).
51. 60 Minutes $104,190 (CBS, Sundays at 7 p.m.)
Last year: $117,966
Season-to-date ratings: 13.5 million viewers, 2.4 in 18 to 49.
52. The Amazing Race $101,522 (CBS, Sundays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $122,691
Season-to-date ratings: 8.8 million total viewers, 2.0 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: In the fall, CBS’s Sunday lineup runs after football on the East Coast. While that provides 60 Minutes with a big lead-in, it also often messes with the timing. It is a tricky night to schedule, but The Amazing Race, with its loyal fandom, seems to serve a good purpose here.
53. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland $97,136 (Thursdays at 8 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 5.2 million viewers, 1.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: This show started later than most of the fall schedule, so these ratings include only two episodes. It’s basically DOA, and I imagine it will be pulled soon.
54. The Michael J. Fox Show $95,663 (NBC, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 5.6 million total viewers, 1.7 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: It seems that advertisers heavily discount NBC’s Thursday nights, even when Michael J. Fox is the show’s star. Considering how things are turning out — the whole lineup has faced audience rejection — it appears that advertisers are correct.
55. Back in the Game $94,213 (ABC, Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 6.9 million total viewers, 1.9 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: This show loses some of The Middle’s audience, and I haven’t heard a single soul mention it. It’s not doing terribly, though. ABC has ordered more scripts, which is always a decent sign for a show.
56. The Biggest Loser $91,672 (NBC, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: N/A (it’s missing from the Ad Age list)
Season-to-date ratings: 7.2 million total viewers, 2.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: This show started later in the season, so those ratings are for the premiere only. The Biggest Loser is one of the cockroaches of television, however, and when we are all dead and buried, Jillian Michaels will still be screaming at people to get off their asses. Accept that.
57. Crisis $90,433 (Midseason, NBC, Sundays at 10 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: Midseason!
Verdict: NBC has the Winter Olympics this season, so it will be interesting to see when it’s going to bring out its new batch of shows (it will use the games as promotion for all of them, presumably). I was a fan of Rand Ravich’s previous NBC show, Life (starring a then less-known Damian Lewis), and hi, Gillian Anderson!
58. Parenthood $89,278 (NBC, Thursdays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $86,200
Season-to-date ratings: 4.3 million total viewers, 1.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: In May, NBC’s entertainment chairman, Bob Greenblatt, made Parenthood fans — and they are a passionate group — happy by announcing that the show was not only renewed, but would get a full season of 22 episodes. He also announced that the show would move from Tuesdays to Thursdays, which seemed like fine news, also. Then came the collapse of NBC’s Thursdays, which is taking Parenthood down with it! Ratings are down.
59. Revolution $87,188 (NBC, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $97,133
Season-to-date ratings: 5.8 million total viewers, 1.6 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: In its first season, Revolution aired on Mondays after The Voice and drew a 3.3 among 18 to 49 year-olds and 8.6 million viewers in its first four weeks. Leading off Wednesdays, things are not going as well for Revolution.
61. Grimm $84,760 (NBC, Fridays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $71,000
Season-to-date ratings: Season 3 of Grimm premiered on Friday, Oct. 25. Within the context of this post, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison because the rest of the ratings here are for the first four weeks of the season. But just FYI, those ratings were 6.1 million total viewers, and a 1.8 in 18 to 49!
Verdict: In its second season, Grimm gave NBC some needed good news: A loyal and reliable audience likes it and watches it. Now NBC is trying to build a genre night around its success, adding Dracula as a companion.
62. Sean Saves the World $80,939 (NBC, Thursdays at 9 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 3.7 million total viewers, 1.2 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Last week, Sean Hayes gave a pretty remarkable interview to The TV Page. He said that critics disliked the show because it’s not cool enough for them and, “I wouldn’t change anything right now, I think it’s all working.” But mostly, he delivered a stunning and true damnation of NBC’s current state of comedy. “It’s just the struggle of the elephant in the room which is ‘how do you get viewers to NBC?’” Hayes said. “NBC programs great shows, it just doesn’t have the eyeballs CBS does.” I have nothing to add to that!
63. Trophy Wife $80,634 (ABC, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 5 million total viewers, 1.6 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Little gem that not enough people are watching! Watch it!
64. Shark Tank $80,328 (ABC, Fridays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $72,750
Season-to-date ratings: 6.6 million total viewers, 1.9 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Shark Tank has been a sleeper for a few seasons, but last year was when it stopped being a secret. This year, therefore, a bump in its ad costs!
65. Parks & Recreation $78,146 (NBC, Thursdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $92,017
Season-to-date ratings: 3.2 million viewers, 1.2 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: See every other bit in this post about NBC’s Thursday nights, but add me crying about this one. A damn tragedy.
66. Believe $77,678 (Midseason, NBC, Sundays at 9 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: None yet.
Verdict: A heavily serialized thriller from Alfonso Cuarón and the J.J. Abrams factory. Advertisers are skeptical of such things, I guess.
67. Last Man Standing $75,124 (ABC, Fridays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $78,005
Season-to-date ratings: 6.1 million total viewers, 1.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Most people probably don’t know this show is still on. But ABC has an OK thing going on its Friday nights, I think.
68. The Mentalist $74,330 (CBS, Sundays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $108,639
Season-to-date ratings: 8.8 million total viewers, 1.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The Mentalist’s creator, Bruno Heller, has said that he’d be happy to continue the show even though he’s wrapping up the series-long arc, the Red John mystery, soon. This show, which was once a bigger hit, now has a median age of 60.8. I don’t know, friends.
69. Law & Order: SVU $73,477 (NBC, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $74,563
Season-to-date ratings: 8 million viewers, 2.1 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: SVU Season 15 started out the season with a big stunt — see photo of Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia being tortured above — and it drew people in.
70. The Good Wife $70,446 (CBS, Sundays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $112,654
Season-to-date ratings: 9 million viewers, 1.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: I will be honest with you. The lowness of $70,446 shook me to my core. I love The Good Wife so much — many of us do here. I have to believe that despite advertisers’ apparent lack of desire to buy time on The Good Wife, and despite it having the third highest median age on network television (61.3) — wait, those two things are definitely related. Anyway. Even though this wonderful show isn’t nominated for big Emmys anymore, I have to believe that CBS loves this show and and thinks of it as a prestige project. It’s like a nonprofit arm of CBS!
71. The Neighbors $69,937 (ABC, Fridays at 8:30 p.m.)
Last year: $129,883
Season-to-date ratings: 4.1 million total viewers, 1.0 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: People tell me The Neighbors is very funny; I have no reason not to believe them. With that 18 to 49 rating, I’m not sure whether this show will go into a third season. But something has to air on Friday nights.
72. Raising Hope $76,350 (Fox, Fridays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $117,616
Season-to-date ratings: It begins on Nov. 15.
Verdict: Fox has scheduled Season 4 of Raising Hope to air on Friday nights, two at a time. That’s not a great sign? But it owns the show through its studio, 20th Century Fox Television, so it has a financial incentive to have it last until it can go into syndication.
73. Crossbones $66,190 (Midseason, NBC, Fridays at 10 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: NBC hasn’t announced the premiere date yet, but Dracula’s season is 10-episodes long.
Verdict: John Malkovich — who will play Blackbeard here — and James Spader (of Blacklist) chewing scenery on the same network. Everyone take appropriate precautions.
74. Undercover Boss $65,096 (CBS, Fridays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $69,100
Season-to-date ratings: 8.2 million total viewers, 1.5 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Solid for CBS’s Friday night.
75. 20/20 $64,838 (ABC, Fridays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $61,997
Season-to-date ratings: 4.9 million total viewers, 1.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: I have nothing to say!
76. America’s Funniest Home Videos $63,129 (ABC, Sundays at 7 p.m.)
Last year: $69,690
Season-to-date ratings: 5.4 million total viewers, 1.1 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: This show has been on for 24 years. This show is old enough that if it were a person, it would have graduated from college and started its adult life.
77. Hawaii Five-0 $61,160 (CBS, Fridays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $136,368
Season-to-date ratings: 9.3 million total viewers, 1.5 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Moving from Monday nights to Friday nights means taking a big hit, ad-rate-wise. It also means a jacked-up median age (56.9 for the first four weeks in 2012, 60.5 now).
78. Blue Bloods $59,863 (CBS, Fridays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $75,857
Season-to-date ratings: 11 million total viewers, 1.5 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: As I mentioned earlier, Blue Bloods has the oldest audience on network TV. It also has a slightly better 18 to 49 rating than Fox’s Dads. Life is weird.
79. Dracula $59,705 (NBC, Fridays at 10 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: As with Grimm, I’m including Dracula’s premiere numbers for fun, but it didn’t fall within the four-week period of the rest of the data on this list. It brought in 5.3 million viewers and a 1.8 among 18 to 49 year-olds.
Verdict: We’ll see.
80. The Vampire Diaries $55,788 (CW, Thursdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $61,887
Season-to-date ratings: (Note: All of the CW shows premiered in Oct., so they’ve had fewer episodes than most of the other shows in this list.) 2.5 million total viewers, 1.2 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The Vampire Diaries is the CW’s biggest demographic hit, and has beaten NBC and ABC in its time slot. They’re weak. But TVD is also a force.
81. Dateline NBC $49,809 (NBC, Fridays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $39,970
Season-to-date ratings: 5.8 million total viewers, 1.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: When the broadcast TV model is blown up, and there doesn’t have to be programming every night of the week, there probably won’t be news magazine shows anymore. Except for 60 Minutes. If the new model accommodates for such things!
82. Arrow $47,859 (CW, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $62,995
Season-to-date ratings: 2.9 million total viewers, 1.0 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Arrow is the CW’s most-watched show in total audience, and does well in time-shifted viewing.
83. The Tomorrow People $40,807 (CW, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 2.3 million total viewers, 0.8 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Though this show isn’t setting the world on fire, I imagine that it will get a full-season order soon.
84. Supernatural $39,410 (CW, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $35,123
Season-to-date ratings: 2.4 million total viewers, 1.2 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Supernatural has bounced all over the CW’s schedule, and keeps going. It’s now in its ninth season. Who would have guessed?
85. The Originals $39,406 (CW, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 2.1 million, 1.0 in 18 to 49 (one of the three episodes counted here is the series premiere, which aired after The Vampire Diaries on Oct. 3).
Verdict: The Originals, in a very difficult time slot, is doing perfectly nicely.
86. Reign $37,622 (CW, Thursdays at 9 p.m.)
Season-to-date ratings: 2 million total viewers, 0.8 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Only one episode, the premiere, aired in the first four weeks of the season. But I will tell you a secret: It didn’t do as well in its second week. (Perhaps because none of the characters masturbated?)
87. 48 Hours $32,150 (CBS, Saturdays at 10 p.m.)
Last year: $41,519
Season-to-date ratings: 5.2 million total viewers, .9 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Of the big four networks, 48 Hours is the only show that averages below a 1.0 in 18 to 49. But it doesn’t matter, I don’t think.
88. Hart of Dixie $27,691 (CW, Mondays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $41,099
Season-to-date ratings: 1.1 million total viewers, 0.4 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: The CW sticks with this show!
89. America’s Next Top Model $25,513 (CW, Fridays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $35,865
Season-to-date ratings: N/A. The season began in the summer.
Verdict: This show gets about a million viewers a week. How long can it continue? As long as the CW programs Friday nights?
90. The Carrie Diaries $23,538 (CW, Fridays at 8 p.m.)
Last year: $41,350
Season-to-date ratings: As with Grimm and Dracula, The Carrie Diaries premiered on Oct. 25, and was pretty much a disaster: 840,000 total viewers, 0.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: This show, which I think is sweet and good, was a surprise renewal in May. Can it survive?
91. Beauty and the Beast $21,817 (CW, Mondays at 9 p.m.)
Last year: $40,699
Season-to-date ratings: 892,000 total viewers, 0.3 in 18 to 49.
Verdict: Moving from its post-Vampire Diaries spot to Mondays did not get a vote of confidence from advertisers. Sucks to be last.
Here’s how Ad Age describes its methodology: “Ad Age’s survey is compiled using data from as many as seven media-buying agencies. Prices should be taken as directional indications, not the actual numbers advertisers pay for a spot, as estimates can vary depending on the amount of inventory purchased from a network and the relationship an advertiser has with the network. Ad Age’s survey is based on what advertisers paid during this year’s upfront and prices may have changed for those purchasing closer to air date, or in the “scatter” market.” (This is me talking: The upfront is the period after the networks announce their schedules when advertisers can pay “upfront” for spots, usually for less money than if they wait.)
Prices for ads on shows already canceled: CBS’s We Are Men, $137,121; ABC’s Lucky 7, $82,746; NBC’s Welcome to the Family, $62,368, and Ironside $78,097.
Omissions: Shows such as Fox’s Rake, NBC’s Hannibal, CBS’s Mike & Molly and a handful of others (Fox’s Surviving Jack, ABC’s Killer Women, etc.) weren’t on Ad Age’s survey because at the time of publication, they had not been scheduled. (Even though Rake and Mike & Molly now have been.) Also, I didn’t include Fox’s Enlisted because it was pushed from November to January, but on the Ad Age chart, it was still a fall show. (The show will now premiere on Friday, Jan. 10.) Since I couldn’t verify whether the number ($67,789) was still valid, I omitted it.
Lastly! Since apparently gathering the information for ad costs is an art, not a science, here’s Adweek’s version of 30-second ad costs for the 2013–14 schedule. The numbers vary a bit.