The departure of Seinfeld from US screens earlier this year hit the
country hard, and nowhere harder than in the pockets of its TV
When the nation said goodbye to Jerry, the NBC network lost the show
media buyers would pay through the nose to advertise on.
When the autumn schedule begins this week, NBC will fill the Thursday
night Seinfeld spot with another hugely successful comedy, Frasier. But
according to figures just published by the US trade magazine,
Advertising Age, agencies will be paying around dollars 100,000 less for
a 30-second spot during Frasier than the record dollars 575,000 they
paid last year to advertise next to Seinfeld.
NBC’s medical drama, ER, is now the highest priced show of the autumn
season with 30-second spots going for dollars 565,000. While this will
probably be enough to cover the reported dollars 280 million NBC paid to
retain ER, the network will still be suffering.
At least one of its Thursday night shows has reduced its ad rate because
of Seinfeld’s absence. The cost of a 30-second spot in the relatively
new comedy, Veronica’s Closet, is down 5 per cent on last year because
it can no longer be packaged with Seinfeld.
The rival networks, ABC, CBS and Fox, will benefit from NBC’s troubles,
with ad rates for Fox’s Ally McBeal up a massive 121 per cent. But
overall, the average cost of a 30-second ad this season is estimated at
dollars 153,000, a 3 per cent drop on last year’s prices and a decline
on the 6.5 per cent increases the networks have enjoyed in recent
’Very few of the new shows have been successes,’ Larry Cole, the media
director at Ogilvy & Mather in New York, explains. ’The networks are
finding things very hard because audiences aren’t growing and people are
moving away from the networks on to cable.’
While the broadcast networks have traditionally claimed the
lion’s share of ad revenue, cable is catching up. Shows such as Comedy
Central’s South Park look increasingly appealing next to the
comparatively staid offerings of their broadcast counterparts.