'American Idol' ad rates plunge

The long-running singing competition is on thin ice.

By Jonathan Berr Oct 22, 2012 11:42AM
Couple on sofa watching television together copyright Blend Images, Hill Street Studios, the Agency Collection, Getty Images For the first time in five years, News Corp.'s (NWSA) "American Idol" has lost its position as the most expensive television advertising spot. It's another sign of the Fox singing competition's fading popularity, according to a survey released today by Ad Age.

The average price for a 30-second commercial on the Wednesday edition of "Idol" slumped to $340,825 from $502,900 last season, while spots on the show's Thursday broadcast hit $296,002, versus $468,1000. 

Though "Idol" remains hugely popular, the show lost a quarter of its audience last season, hurt by the surging popularity of rivals such as NBC's "The Voice" and the never-ending churn of celebrity judges. Plus, the show has gotten as stale as day-old bread, which is why News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey recently told investors that the producers need to make the show "fresh."

"I don't think it will have the ratings free fall that it did last year, but I don't think it will return to previous levels of viewership," Shari-Anne Brill, the CEO of Shari Anne Brill Media, said in an interview. "There are so many talent competitions on the air that in the end they cannibalize each other to an extent."

Indeed, season 12 of "American Idol" brings new faces to the judge's table, including divas those of Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, who reportedly had sharp words for each other during the show's auditions in Charlotte, N.C. Whether that bad blood has been ginned up to boost ratings is hard to say. 

Country superstar Keith Urban is also on the judge's panel, along with Randy Jackson, the sole link to the original "Idol" lineup. The show is probably still profitable, but its expenses have to be huge. News Corp. has stuck by "The Simpsons" for decades, even as the program's popularity has eroded. Idol, though, won't be given as much slack, because of the changing economics of  television.

Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC has the highest rates, on "Sunday Night Football," where commercial time averaged $545,142, up from $512,367 last season. Media companies are spending billions on sports broadcasting rights, which have increased exponentially in value.  Some critics have argued that all consumers, even those who aren't fans, are paying the price for the industry's spendthrift ways.

The news, however, wasn't all bad for News Corp. in the Ad Age survey. Commercial prices for Zooey Deschanel's "New Girl" sitcom more than doubled to $320,940. Prices for "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" also rose. Bart Simpson and friends commanded an average of $286,131, edging out the Griffins, who commanded $276,690 for a 30-second spot.

Fox, though, has seen double-digit declines so far this season among adults 18 to 49 -- the demographic targeted by advertisers -- as have CBS (CBS) and Walt Disney's (DIS) ABC. NBC has bucked the trend, thanks to the popularity of "The Voice." The Peacock Network also is seeing its audience become younger, which is more desirable for advertisers, while its rivals' viewership is aging, according to Adweek.

Jonathan Berr is long CBS. Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.

Oct 23, 2012 7:44AM

I cannot stand Niki.  She's trash...................She doesn't belong on the same stage with Keith and Mariah.  Mariah and Faith Evans who has actually helped run a record label.  Mary J., Sheryl Crow, Selena Gomez, many others would have brought some class to the show.  I hated Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler too..

Oct 23, 2012 7:42AM
i won't take the time to watch idol anymore, it's become boring with judges that aren't likable!
Oct 23, 2012 7:11AM
Get rid of Minaj and I might watch the show again. I have zero respect for that unclassy ho-bag
Oct 23, 2012 6:27AM
Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Nicki Whatever as judges???  This show is DEAD on arrival.
They need to just axe Idol i completely stopped watching idol because "The Voice" kicks **** i used to be a fan of Mariah Carey but now she's just like crap J.Lo
Oct 23, 2012 4:39AM
An honest opinion, the show has played itself out. there is no more edge to it.. then you throw in 2 foul mouthd hasbin soo-called divas, you are going to loose whats left of the audience that is left.. and thats if they arnt sent to bed too early because elementary school starts early.. just cancelle the show, you have tried everything and its not working.. gota be honest though, i did like watching that train wreck of a person Paula for a couple years. loved when she came here to Seattle for an interview at Q13 and trashd our beloved city and our people on live television, then claimd the typical b.s. lie from Hollywood saying she was just jetlegged or tired, lolol.. everyone knew she was wacked out of her head at 7a.m. on oxycontin... never know what she will say from one minute to the next. makes her kinda fun to watch at times, except when our children are asking why she is like that???
Oct 23, 2012 3:25AM
Never should have fired Paula!!!!!!!!!
Oct 23, 2012 2:20AM
I have all but 5 minutes viewing time on this show, I would rather watch Obama convince me that all is well and only getting better. Or that few seconds before you hit the car in front of you. All are the same conclusion a wreak
Oct 23, 2012 1:49AM

Please - I've just got to talk to you...


Please -   get your head out of the loo...


Tyler for Minaj? You've lost this veiwer for good.


O.k. I'll go back to the financial page now!

Oct 23, 2012 1:49AM
American Idol? That show still on? Hmmph.
Oct 23, 2012 1:35AM
I wish they'd put the country music version back on TV and on one of the main channels. Was a very slmmed down version of Idol it was yet better, The contestant all could write music and play instruments as well. IF Idol wants tostick around they need to changeup the show some. Same old formula grows old. Reality tv just get's boring after awhile. Used to ove survivor. Haven'twatched the last two seasons. Has turned into another kind of popularity contest rather than who could actually outwit ,outlast, and outplay!!! Still watch big brother but their getting ot be a popularity contest as well!! How about Idol, mixed up with parts of survivor, big brother, x-factor and  the voice???
Oct 23, 2012 1:26AM

I gradually lost interest over the last few years. Now that Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey are going to be judges I will no longer watch. How can someone with as little talent as Minaj judge other people?

Shut. Up.

Oct 23, 2012 12:50AM
I can't believe Idol has sunk so low . The judges this year are disgusting . We always watched before now , NO!
Oct 23, 2012 12:41AM
Get rid of those STANK HO's KARDASHIANS also
A continuous collection of wanna-be-has-been judges, the same format of check-out-the wackos-who-audition-for-this and then look-at-this-warm-fuzzy-story-of this-come-from-nowhere-singer who they already pre-picked to be the idol before the final 12 were chosen.  Can't stand the 30 second pauses before announcements and cuts!!!  Voting is fixed...best and most talented ones always get cut!!  Most performances are no better than our local karaoke bar!! Most Idol winners have a hard time selling 200,000 (except for Kelly Clarkson and Kerry Underwood (and for the record, anyone can sell a million albums in talentless country music land!!)
Oct 23, 2012 12:12AM
Nicki Minaj, all credibility lost. Jumped the Shark.
Oct 23, 2012 12:06AM
Most people have that right. American Idol you are crazy I for one will NOT watch Niki Minija. Whoever made that choice needs to be fired! Let the ratings drop and then maybe they will wake up and get someone we want to see come on guys..... GET A CLUE!
Oct 23, 2012 12:04AM

Let's be fair, folks.  Idol is competing with a Presidential year election.  Plus, the baseball playoffs are in session.  Once the election is over, we'll see what happens.  I can't say that I'm crazy about Minaj.  I've always liked Idol, but it's the only reality show I've watched.  I haven't watched it this year because I'm very wrapped up in the baseball and the election.  All in all, I am sick to death of reality shows.  Don't like them.  Won't watch them.  It's about time the networks started spending some money on quality drama and comedy.  If I wanted to watch a bunch of people act like junior high students, I'd go to a junior high school. 

I don't care who can dance or survive or catch the bachelor.  Give it a rest.  It's done.

Oct 22, 2012 11:37PM
will not watch with minaj or carey.  bad choice.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

123 rated 1
262 rated 2
480 rated 3
651 rated 4
649 rated 5
629 rated 6
616 rated 7
496 rated 8
346 rated 9
111 rated 10

Top Picks

TAT&T Inc9



Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.