Fall TV

Why the Stars of 'Big Bang Theory' Deserve Big Bucks

Fall TV

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After much ado, Mayim Bialik now reportedly makes $60,000 an episode to geek out on "The Big Bang Theory." If you're shaking your head at Hollywood's bloated salaries, we humbly encourage you to look at the "Big" picture: A 30-second advertisement on Chuck Lorre's "Bang" costs a whopping $326,260. That's over $10,000 per second. You don't need a rocket scientist to tell you that's a lot of dough.

"Bang" is just one of the shows mentioned in Adweek's recently published survey of network television media buyers. The magazine puts "Bang" at the top of the heap because of the "platinum" advertising rate. Lorre's hit series, now in its seventh season, is the most expensive non-NFL show on the air. And those ad dollars are, according to Adweek, worth every penny: "The Big Bang Theory" is averaging 19.2 million viewers. That's an awful lot of "Bang" for the buck.

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And that's in part why the cast has a much ballyhooed history of hardcore salary negotiations. Earlier this season, Deadline reported that the two newest girls on the block at "Bang" — Bialik and Melissa Rauch — successfully negotiated massive raises and saw their salaries doubled to $60,000 per episode. The deals are sweet: By the end of their contracts, Bialik and Rauch will take home $100,000 per episode. And that's small potatoes compared to the $300,000 that Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, and Jim Parsons are reportedly earning per episode. When negotiations for Season 8 begin, Galecki, Cuoco, and Parsons are expected to demand yet another "Friends"-style sit-down and ask for $500,000 per episode episode. It's only natural that the cast wants a piece of that $326,260 price tag.

Now let's find out what other shows are worthy of big bucks and what shows are better off on the clearance rack.


The Good: It's no surprise that CBS has the highest average price tag of any network. A remarkable 9.92 million viewers went crazy for "The Crazy Ones," the most expensive new sitcom, which charges $175,200 for a spot. It's a big comeback for Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar, but will viewers stick around? The outlook is foggy. CBS also charges $122,390 per spot for "BBT" lead-out "The Millers" and $138,575 for Chuck Lorre's not-so-popular "Mom." 

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The Less Good: CBS optimistically demanded $134,430 per spot for "Hostages," but with only 5.2 million viewers watching Toni Collette navigate the situation with Dylan McDermott, that asking price seems pretty high today.

The Ugly: Every rose has its thorn. And CBS has — er, had — "We Are Men." The Jerry O'Connell Speedo show was the second casualty of the fall season. Only 5.4 million people watched the last episode, and the network was asking $99,520 for a spot. Yikes.


The Good: Superhero success "Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" has already been picked up for a full season. Thirty seconds with the largely male "Marvel" fan base costs $169,730, and that's a super deal.

The Less Good: "Super Fun Night" with Rebel Wilson is asking $130,823 per spot. That's 33 percent more than the previous occupant "The Neighbors," but Rebel's ratings aren't super. Only 6.7 million people went on a second date with Rebel and friends last week, way down from the 10.4 million viewers who hung out with powerhouse lead-in "Modern Family." That show commands $257,435 per spot and is second only to "The Simpsons" ($256.963) in terms of comedy cost. Families are expensive, but they're worth it (if their last name is Simpson, Pritchett, or Dunphy).

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The Ugly: In totally non-super news, ABC is home of the season's first casualty, "Lucky 7," which asked for $86,355 per spot. Its '80s comedy "The Goldberg" gets $93,200 per spot with less than 6 million fans tuning in. And the Malin Ackerman vehicle, "Trophy Wife," is not exactly a cheap date. Less than 5 million viewers sidled up to "Wife" last week, yet the show demands $91,175 per spot.


The Good: Adweek admires "The Blacklist," which features James Spader at his creepiest — a giant leap since his odd stint on "The Office — and a dreamy lead-in, "The Voice." A 30-second spot on "The Blacklist" costs $198,667. And with 13.8 million viewers showing up for the most recent episode, "Blacklist" is an oddly great companion to monster hit "The Voice," which charges $264,575 for its Wednesday airing. (Adweek did not report the price of a 30-second spot on the Monday edition of "The Voice.")

The Painful: Some of the price tags, however, are questionable. Advertisers have to shell out $71,500 for 30 seconds of "Ironside" (which could be canceled at any moment) and $62,370 for "Welcome to the Family" (which will be canceled at any moment). Odds are that you've never seen either show. Only 2.5 million people welcomed "The Family" last week. Ouch. "The Michael J. Fox Show" is considerably more expensive at $110,000 per 30 seconds, but with only 3.84 million tuning in to the most recent episode, it's not exactly money well spent.


The Good: Fox is the proud home to haunted hit "Sleepy Hollow," which Adweek calls TV's best investment: 25.1 million people welcomed the series when it bowed this season. And a 30-second commercial is only $139,120. That's scary in the good way; the show is hugely popular on DVR. And obviously, nobody skips through commercials on DVR shows. Wink, wink.

[Related: 'Sleepy Hollow': Has Abbie Found Someone Even Older Than Ichabod? … and Other Questions Answered]

The Not So Good: Unfortunately, Fox's other guys — Seth Green and Andy Samberg — are not as compelling as the headless horseman. Male-dominated bubble shows "Dads" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" are asking $120,100 and $96,225, respectively, per spot. And that would be fine if you didn't look at the ratings for the dude duds, which are scarily low. There is hope for Samberg's "Brooklyn" because as of today, it's the first new show to actually go up in adults 18-49.

The Silver Lining: But then again, Fox also has Homer Simpson and his brood on "The Simpsons," the most fiscally demanding comedy on air at $256,963 per spot and worth every penny. No wonder the modern classic has been renewed for a 26th season.

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