‘Idol,’ ’24’ and ‘V’ Among TV’s Top Moneymakers

Simon Cowell, Morena Baccarin, Charlie Sheen (ABC/Getty Images)

Simon Cowell, Morena Baccarin, Charlie Sheen (ABC/Getty Images)

A ranking of the TV shows that generate the most ad dollars finds reality juggernaut ‘American Idol‘ at the top, yet also offers up a couple of surprises.

“TV’s Biggest Moneymakers,” as comprised by Kantar Media for Forbes.com, tabulates the amount of ad money raked in per 30 minutes of content for all regularly scheduled prime-time programming (minus sports). Landing at the No. 1 spot with a bullet is ‘Idol,’ which these days amasses $8.1 million per half hour. One could argue that’s a pretty fair value for a show that averages 26 million viewers and dominates the pop culture conversation every spring.

Placing second on the list is CBS’ ‘Two and a Half Men.’ TV’s most-watched comedy takes in $3.1 million each episode.

At No. 3 is Fox’s ‘24,’ which is likely to call it a day after the current season plays out. A major factor playing into ’24’s expiration is its hefty price tag – one that apparently is not sufficiently offset by the $3 million in ad money it collects every half-hour.

The complete Top 10 ranking is shown below, but Forbes.com makes note of two interesting placements.

ABC’s ‘V‘ scored the No. 5 spot with a haul of $2.8 million per half-hour – not bad for a freshman drama that quickly shed a third of its massive debut audience (14 million viewers). Given that erosion, the aliens-among-us tale is expected to plunge on the list when it returns in a few weeks.

Also, one might assume that Fox’s ‘Glee‘ is veritably printing money, given its pop culture prevalence. The ad community, however, hedged its bets on the musical-comedy when casting their lot last spring, so ‘Glee’ had to settle for bargain prices. As such, it’s way down at No. 45, generating just $1.4 million per half-hour. The good news: ‘Glee’s ask is guaranteed to inflate moving forward, now that it’s a proven hit.

TV’s Biggest Moneymakers, per Forbes.com

1. ‘American Idol,’ Fox ($8.1 million in ad dollars per half hour)

2. ‘Two and a Half Men,’ CBS ($3.1 million)

3. ’24,’ Fox ($3 million)

4. ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ABC ($2.8 million)

5. ‘V,’ ABC ($2.8 million)

6. ‘Desperate Housewives,’ ABC ($2.7 million)

7. ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ ABC ($2.56 million)

8. ‘Lost,’ ABC ($2.53 million)

9. ‘Survivor,’ CBS ($2.22 million)

10. ‘CSI,’ CBS ($2.07 million)

What do you think are the best bargains? And which shows, in your opinion, frankly are a bit “overpriced”?

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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