Special Report

America's Most Expensive TV Shows

Thomas C. Frohlich, Michael B. Sauter

10. Scandal
> 30-second spot price: $200,970
> Network: ABC
> Weekly viewers: 9.8 million (29th highest)
> Seasons on air: three
> Time slot: 10:00-11:00 p.m., Thursday

Shonda Rhimes, the writer behind long-running success “Grey’s Anatomy,” created “Scandal” in 2011. According to The Huffington Post, the show brought in about 6 million viewers per week for ABC during its first two seasons. Now in its third, the show is averaging nearly 10 million weekly views, according to Nielsen. This is a good sign for the program, which was the lowest rated ABC drama debut of the 2011-2012 season. Also, succeeding in the 10:00 p.m. slot, sometimes referred to as the “dead zone,” is quite the achievement.

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9. Two and a Half Men
> 30-second spot price: $204,176
> Network: CBS
> Weekly viewers: 10.9 million (23rd highest)
> Seasons on air: 11
> Time slot: 9:30-10:00 p.m., Thursday

So far this fall, more than 10 million people have watched “Two and a Half Men” per week on average. CBS charges more than $200,000 for 30 seconds of advertising when the show is on the air. Charlie Sheen, the show’s former star, was fired in 2011 after a notorious meltdown. He was replaced by Ashton Kutcher, who was recently reported to be the current highest-paid TV actor, earning $24 million between June 2012 and June 2013. Jon Cryer, starring on the show since its debut in 2003, is the second-highest paid actor on television.

8. Grey’s Anatomy
> 30-second spot price: $206,075
> Network: ABC
> Weekly viewers: 11.2 million (21st highest)
> Seasons on air: 10
> Time slot: 9:00-10:00 p.m., Thursday

Shonda Rhimes’s medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” went on the air in 2005 and became popular almost immediately, averaging more than 17 million viewers per week at that time. When the program was released it received praise not only for its script, but for the open-casting process that resulted in the show’s diverse set of actors. Now in its ninth season, the show still attracts a substantial viewership, averaging more than 11 million viewers per week on average. “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo has earned about $200,000 per episode since 2007, a fee easily covered by 30 seconds of advertising.

7. Family Guy
> 30-second spot price: $223,145
> Network: FOX
> Weekly viewers: 5.9 million (56th highest)
> Seasons on air: 13
> Time slot: 9:00-9:30 p.m., Sunday

Seth MacFarlane is the creator of “Family Guy,” “American Dad” and “The Cleveland Show,” all of which appear on the FOX network. More than other networks, FOX relies heavily on animated programs like “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons.” In a recent interview for the New York Times, FOX’s chairman for entertainment, Kevin Reilly said, “We have a 25-year multibillion-dollar prime time monopoly in animation that has worked great.” Compared with other expensive TV shows, however, “Family Guy” attracts among the smallest number of prime time viewers — just under 6 million per week on average.

6. New Girl
> 30-second spot price: $231,570
> Network: FOX
> Weekly viewers: 5.5 million (tied for 60th highest)
> Seasons on air: three
> Time slot: 9:00-9:30 p.m., Tuesday

“New Girl” stars Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Zooey Deschanel. The series itself received numerous awards after its first season, including nominations for five Emmys. Considering the cost of advertising, however, the program’s household share is low compared with other programs charging high fees for ad spots. Still, by the end of the second season last May, the show received praise, particularly for the transformation of Deschanel’s character, Jess.