Lost: Want to Advertise on the Last Episode?

LostAs the final episodes of ABC’s Lost are unveiled, faithful viewers are counting the days until the show’s conclusion. On Sunday, May 23rd, ABC will air three hours devoted to Lost. The 8:00 hour will be a recap and the 9-11pm block will end the series.

ABC is expecting a lot of viewers on that night and is charging advertisers a premium for the airtime. According to Advertising Age, a 30-second spot during this season of Lost typically goes for about $213,560. For the final episode, ABC has raised the price more than 400%, to a whopping $900,000. That’s about $400-600k less than a 30-second spot during this year’s Oscars (also on ABC).

Why the hefty jump in price? As the use of DVRs and delayed viewing becomes more common, it’s harder and harder for advertisers to find ways to reach a massive audience all at once. A big event, like the Super Bowl or the last episode of Lost, is a means of reaching millions of viewers “live” who are likely to see most of the ads.

While the $900k per 30-second price tag is hefty, it’s not the highest priced finale by a longshot. Ad Age notes that, in 1998, a spot on the Seinfeld finale went for $1.4-1.8 million. That’s about $1.8-2.4 million today, if you account for inflation.

In 2004, spots on the last Friends went for $1.5-2.3 million ($1.7-2.6 million now). A year later, in 2005, an ad on the finale of Everybody Loves Raymond sold for $1.3 million ($1.4 million today).

In 1983, a spot on the two and a half hour finale of M*A*S*H went for $450,000. However, when you adjust for inflation, that equates to about $956,670 today.

What do you think? Is advertising on the last episode of Lost a good deal for advertisers or a big waste of money?

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