How Sunday Became TV’s Most Expensive Night

Earlier this week, AdAge reported that Sunday Night Football is still TV’s costliest show. Now the trade is wondering if Sunday is the new Thursday.


For at least three TV seasons, Sunday has been the most expensive night of the week on broadcast TV for advertisers, but it isn’t all about football.

Based solely on dollars, Thursday seems to have lost some of its appeal. This fall, buying an ad on each primetime program on all of the broadcast networks on Sunday would cost a marketer approximately $2.23 million, according to an Ad Age survey. Doing the same on Thursday would cost $2.03 million.

Ad buyers, says AdAge, believe the two nights have taken on different functions for marketers: Thursday is still important to any advertiser who has a weekend event to tout while Sunday stands as a good night to drive awareness of new goods and services.

“Thursday night has lost some luster price-wise, but if you’re a retailer or a movie studio, there’s no other night. That’s your big night and you can’t move to Sunday,” Ira Berger, director-network broadcasting at independent agency Richards Group, told AdAge.

Choosing one night over the other, he suggested, is “category dependent.”

Several buyers question whether Sunday’s shows would cost as much if they didn’t benefit from football. “Sports is really DVR-proof, so they are able to ask for a premium for that,” Don Seaman, VP-director of communications analysis at Havas’s MPG, told the trade.

Yet football isn’t the only story taking place Sunday night. ABC’s Desperate Housewives commands an average of $228,851 for a 30-second ad while Brothers and Sisters takes in an average of $140,445. Fox’s animated programs are also raking it in with The Simpsons luring an average of $201,920 and Family Guy taking in an average of $214,750.

One buying executive thinks the nights aren’t all that different from each other in terms of audience and pricing. “If you take out football, which has its own advertising base relative to other prime-time programming, and then take CW out of the Thursday data, the days are very close to each other,” John Spiropoulos, senior VP-director of marketplace analytics at Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest, told AdAge.