The network is seeking between $1.2 million and $1.5 million for a 30-second ad in the finale of the veteran series, according to two people familiar with negotiations between CBS and its advertisers. Those figures would represent a price approximately five to six times higher than the average cost to run an ad in the show this season. The last original episode in the series is slated for broadcast on May 16.
The network declined to make executives available for comment.
The prices are astronomical in the current market, and suggest CBS is confident in the power of the series’ denouement to attract a sizable crowd at a time when doing so has become more complex, thanks to viewer migration to streaming services and video-on-demand. The series, led by Chuck Lorre and produced by Warner Brothers, and starring Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, is in the midst of its 12th season on the air.
Yet series finales often draw bigger crowds than a normal episode. The last episode of “Seinfeld” drew 76 million viewers, for example, when NBC showed it on May 14, 1998. And the final original broadcast of “M*A*S*H” lured a whopping 105.9 million viewers when CBS ran it in 1983 – and remains one of the most-watched TV events of all time.
The cost to advertise in each of those shows was eye-popping: NBC sought between $1.4 million and $1.8 million for a 30-second spot in the “Seinfeld” ending, while CBS pressed for $450,000 to run a spot in the last broadcast of “M*A*S*H.”
Other famous finales have also cost big sums. A 30-second ad berth in the last episode of “Friends,” which ran on NBC in 2004, went for between $1.5 million and $2.3 million, while a 30-second slot in CBS’ final episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” in 2005 cost around $1.3 million.