'Lost' finale: a 30-second ad will cost around $900,000

For a show that isn’t exactly raking in record viewership levels during its final season, Lost still has the potential to generate some serious coin for ABC. According to a report in Advertising Age, the network is looking to charge around $900,000 for a 30-second commercial spot during the drama’s May 23 finale. That’s a far cry from what the alphabet net was collecting at last year’s upfront presentation in New York, when ad spots during Lost were selling for a then-bargain price of roughly $213,000, according to the trade publication.

Rich ad rates are usually limited to those shows that generate the greatest number of viewers, especially in the adults 18-49 demographic. So far this season, Lost is only averaging 12.02 million. Granted, that’s up from last year’s 11.2 million but down significantly from the 15 million-plus fans who tuned into the show from 2004-2006. Still, some advertisers are far more interested in the level of fan devotion rather than the sheer number of devotees who tune into a show. “There are many advertisers willing to pay a reasonable premium for inventory in programs that generate such a highly passionate and rabid fan base,” Kris Magel, exec VP-director, national broadcast at Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Initiative, told Advertising Age. “There is definitely value in that.”

Series finales can certainly boost network coffers. A 30-second spot in the 2005 finale for Everybody Loves Raymond, for example, went for about $1.3 million while adds in the 2004 series finale of Friends cost between $1.5 million and $2.3 million.

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  • Trish

    12.02 million is certainly still a ton of viewers.

    • MaiTaiTranny29

      Actually, if the average viewer weighs 160 pounds (which is probably low) that would be 961,600 tons of viewers, not “a” ton.

      • TJ Sawyer

        While nearly always pallid, many Lost fans balance the average by being either exceptionally skinny or significantly overweight so the 160 lbs should be about right. Clearly Season 6 rocks, I’ve put on 10 lbs.

      • @MaiTaiTranny29

        NERD!

      • bob saget

        go die tranny

      • RyanK

        Wait you called TJ Sawyer a nerd and yet you ignore the fact that you too are being a nerd by correcting somebody’s usage of the word “ton”? I have a word for you then MaiTai: Hypocrite!

      • Lisa @ RyanK

        I wrote the Nerd comment directed at MaiTaiTranny29. Sorry for the mix-up

  • jeff

    DVR and iTunes brings another 2 million viewers.

    The finale will have a lot of people watching in real time.

    • hc

      And I imagine a lot of people will leave the commercials playing so they don’t miss a moment of the finale.

      • Eliza

        Not to mention people who watch online at ABC.com or Hulu.

    • Driveshaft

      More will tune in to see how it will all end even those that quit watching the show after or during the awful 3rd season. So I expect that number of viewers go up on the finale.

    • elizabeth

      Excellent point, and the stats suggest that the delayed viewer actually watches MORE ads, not fewer, as some might think. And then there’s the 18-34 male demo so many advertisers love (while others love the ladies b/c we make household spending decisions), and LOST is pretty strong in that area, as well as other key demos.

  • Pete

    Lost ranks in the top 5 for scripted tv shows within the key demos. I seriously doubt they will have any trouble selling ads at that price. I’m actually surprised they didn’t charge more.

  • Matt2

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they sell out rather quickly. There’s heightened awareness surrounding this finale. It’s been known for years. Media buyers will want to have their commercials in place for what it is to be the television event of the year.

    • Sean

      No kidding, and you just know that news outlets and top papers like the NYTimes and Washington Post will have entertainment front page coverage of LOST’s last six years, twists, etc.

    • needles

      You’ve gotta think that those 15million viewers from season 1 & 2 want to know what’s up on the island, of course the ending might make no sense to them depending on what it actually is, plus there’s people who only watch it on dvd might tune in. I’m thinking $900K is a good gamble to take..I often DVR the show and I’m going to watch it live and not change the channel during commercials

  • Moe

    GO LOST!!!!
    You deserve even more.

  • Iggy

    Nice, maybe the 900K price tag will scare everyone away and we’ll get a commercial-free finale!

    • facue

      I was hoping for that too! Or at least ‘limited commercial interruption’

    • Mike

      Isn’t it always commercial free when you download it for free off the internet in HD? :D It’s the only way you don’t need to worry about the Loss Cliffhangers right before commercials. :D

    • Nick B

      I’m hoping for at least limited commercial interruption. Commercial breaks on ABC seem to always be longer than on other networks. I hope the 2 hour finale isn’t actually an hour and 20 minutes because of so much commercial time.

      • Jason

        Your key phrase is “seem to always be”. LOST is exactly 42 minutes long just like every other network TV show. That means that ABC has 18 minutes of commercials, just like every other network does.

      • Nick B

        Jason, I guess you’re right. I just get annoyed. I wish they would do limited commercials for the finale. NBC does it every now and then. I recall an episode or two of Heroes having limited commercial interruption. And the premiere of Parenthood a couple weeks ago also had limited commercial interruption. And the entire first season of Fringe on Fox had limited commercials. Each episode was about 50 minutes. I’m hoping ABC will do this for the Lost finale, but I don’t think they will, probably so they can make as much money from ads as possible.

  • Chris

    I don’t understand why people allow discuss the shrinking audience numbers. I personally have moved abroad since 2006, back then I would watch LOST on television. But now, here in Europe, myself and my other friends never watch LOST on television, obviously. We are among the–I think, quite large–contingent of people who only watch online. When you factor those numbers in, I doubt LOST’s viewership has really changed much since the mid-point of its run. Anyone I know who was sticking with the show at that point is still sticking with it.

  • Josh

    So if each Lost fan ponies up $10, can we get a commercial-free finale?

    • Ian

      No way I will hold a pee for an hour long, my bladder will explode!

  • Jon Locke

    We need commercials during the finale. How else are you going to wipe your eyes?

  • Sarah

    Lest you forget, the LOST Series Finale is an epic event, one which the fan base has been preparing themselves for since Season 1. That’s the day that we finally know the big picture, and see how everything ends. For a show shrouded in mystery, the resolution is a dessert we can’t wait to get to. It’s going to be extraordinary.

    • EM

      How it ends, yes. I’m hoping we know the big picture before the finale. In other words, I expect the finale to hinge on the characters, not the mystery.

  • gre

    LOST is doing much better in the ratings than I would have hoped a show like this would be doing this far in (er, out?). I hope that other serials do what the LOST creators did three years ago — announce a solid end date in advance — so that fans don’t have to worry that their show will die a protracted death, a la THE X-FILES and 24.

  • Tina

    I’m guessing all the early fans who didn’t get their answers quickly enough said to themselves, “It’s just like reading a long suspenseful book – I’ll turn to the last page instead of taking the ride.” I bet lots of people will tune in to the finale thinking they’ll finally get their old theories validated or to figure out the answers to all their old questions. And I will laugh my head off at them because they will have positively no earthly idea what is going on, having missed two or three years of the show that the rest of us stayed committed to!

    • gre

      Heheh. What’s sad is that those same people who bailed early and come back for the finale will be some of the loudest mouths on the web, telling people “I told you so” because the episode makes no sense to them. *sigh*

    • RHB

      You hit the nail on the head! No doubt the finale will be widely viewed by those who jumped ship at the beginning of the series, but still show up faithfully every week to comment on EW’s recaps and Doc Jensen columns and remind us that they don’t know why the rest of us are “still” watching. Silly lemmings, Lost is not for you, but for people with active imaginations, curious minds, a willingness to suspend disbelief for the sake of great entertainment, and an attention span longer than 5 minutes — and we are being richly rewarded!

    • aleksa

      That’s precisely what I thought. People who dropped off the last few years will tune back in to see the ending. I don’t know if it’ll hit “MASH” finale numbers, but it’ll be high. This price tag makes sense to me.

    • MsSuniDaze

      This is my thought too. The finale is for the fans who stuck with the show. Those who tune in to see how it all ends will be as confused as ever. I admire the writers for not dumbing down the story lines so stragglers can catch up. I just need to make sure I watch with fans who are up to date. Otherwise I will be spending the finale anwering non-stop questions. I feel like a stuck up Lost snob. But I put in my years, so I’m entitled. :)

  • Rob Grizzly

    That’s just too much money. Even for the great L O S T.

  • Will

    I see the irony bessie. You were “LOST” until you found this intriguing hot cougar dating site. That’s very fortunate for you.

    Good Lord.

  • Chet 4

    Where is Totally Lost? I am totally lost without it!

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