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Broadcast Spot Prices Fell 2% in First Quarter

The cost of 30-second commercials in primetime on the broadcasts dipped 2% in the first quarter. The average cost per unit on broadcast was $111,754 in the first quarter compared to $114,079 a year ago, according to analysis of data from SQAD’s NetCosts by media agency TargetCast tcm.

During the quarter, unit costs for spots on the top 15 cable networks were up 4% to an average of $12,998.

The new data comes as the networks and media buyers wrangle in the upfront market. Last year’s upfront market was very strong, but Gary Carr, senior VP, executive director of national broadcast at TargetCast, says that lower demand for scatter, combined with relatively flat ratings, kept unit prices stable.

Among the broadcasters, Fox had the highest unit prices, averaging $198,088. That would include American Idol, which got a premium, then delivered disappointing ratings. Commercials on CBS averaged $115,772, ABC’s averaged $95,992 and spots on NBC drew $86,914, according to TargetCast and NetCosts.

The highest-priced ads in cable ran on ESPN, which averaged $37,329 for a primetime 30-second spot. Second place was TNT at $18,071.