Show Me the Money: The Financing Behind Your Favorite TV Programs [INFOGRAPHIC]

The return of fall always brings some of our favorite TV shows back to the screen. But how much money actually goes into these programs to capture our attention? Well, typically it costs $100,000 to $500,000 to produce the average reality TV show. American Idol costs a whopping $2,000,000 to create one episode, with Jennifer Lopez getting $17,500,000 a season to return. The typical successful network show costs $3 million to run each year, while cable programs average nearly half to make at $1.6 million.

TV Advertisers

What do advertisers really pay for the top spots? To run a 30-second advertisement during Sunday Night Football costs over a half million dollars! The next most expensive shows to get advertising space on are American Idol, Modern Family, and New Girl, each near $300,000 a slot. The most expensive commercial ever aired on Fox in 2004, featuring couture outfits by designer Karl Lagerfield, a soundtrack via classical composer Claude Debussy and a four minute long ad starring Nicole Kidman (who made $2 million for it).

Top TV Personalities

Who are the top stars on television though? Jon Stewart (late night) and Matt Lauer (news) each rake in $25 million per season. Ashton Kutcher’s $17,250,000 and Howard Stern’s $15,000,000 aren’t too shabby either. Most network CEO’s average about $20 million per year themselves, not to mention other lavish perks.

Longest Running TV Shows

The longest running shows all-time are Meet the Press and Network Newscast, at 65 years, followed by 57 years of Guiding Light and 44 years of Sesame Street. Also, The Simpsons have also been running for 24 years and with 530 episodes made, it would take you almost 9 days straight to watch them all! During season 20, the six main voice actors held out to negotiate higher salaries at $400,000 per episode, however in 2011, they were pressured to take a 30% pay cut to avoid having the show cancelled. Back in 2002, the wildly popular cast of the NBC comedy Friends, were earning $1 million per show, which was the biggest deal ever for a half-hour TV program at the time, and unfortunately why it’s probably no longer around today.
How expensive is your favorite show?

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