Television advertising isn’t cheap. In addition to paying for airtime, you also have production costs. Carefully measure your results to ensure you’re getting a good return.

Using local TV ads to promote your business exposes you to new prospects who may be ready to buy. 

Don’t rule out national spots, either. According to AdAge, commercial airtime is getting cheaper. 

Want some details on the cost of TV advertising? Find them below.

How TV Advertising Pricing Works

There are two major components to TV ads:

  • Production costs
  • Airtime

It’s easier to control production costs than airtime. Keep in mind, however, that you are competing for people’s attention and a sub-par TV commercial isn’t going to help your bottom line. You do get what you pay for.

Airtime costs vary widely between markets and are based mostly on the number of viewers who see your commercial. While showing your commercial to fewer viewers makes airtime cheaper, these are often late-night time slots during weekdays.

How Much Do TV Commercials Cost?

Every year there’s a big push to sell next year’s ad dollars to media buyers (the ones you buy airtime from) during an event called Upfront Week. 

This year’s hoopla included a lot of bickering about ad prices. While streaming services are dominating viewership, TV networks are not changing their prices much. 

But your costs are not limited to airtime alone. Many factors affect the price. Here are 3 that you need to consider. 

1. 2019 Television Advertising Production Costs 

Production costs are what you pay to create a commercial. If you hire a professional production company to create one, you can pay anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000. 

Hiring a production company takes the burden off of you to find a team. There are a lot of moving parts to a commercial, including:

  • Script
  • Video or still images
  • Graphic elements (logos, artwork, etc.)
  • Voiceover
  • Actors (if doing video)
  • Editing and producing a finished project

If you don’t have a large budget for a TV ad, you can hire freelancers yourself and coordinate the project on your own. Keep in mind that freelancers specialize, so you’ll have to hire a team of people, keep track of where they are in the process and then have an editor/producer put the finished product together. 

2. 2019 Local Television Airtime Costs for Small, Local Businesses

Advertising airtime costs are based on several factors, including:

  • Cost per thousand people viewing the commercial (CPM or cost-per-mille)
  • Location (divided between national and local)
  • Timeslot (when it’s being shown and on what day(s))

Here are some costs for 60-second TV commercials in 2019 by location:

City                      CPM (Adults 25-54)

Los Angeles       $34.75

New York City   $27.16

Cleveland           $21.11

Detroit                $18.36

Kansas City       $14.36

If you want to know exactly how much airtime costs, ask your local TV ad rep how many people will see your commercial. Let’s assume you want to buy in Kansas City and 100,000 people will see your ad.

Here’s how you’ll figure out the total cost of airtime:

(100,000/1,000) x $14.36=$14,360

The total airtime for your commercial would be $14,360. This doesn’t include production costs.

3. 2019 National Television Airtime Costs

E-commerce and catalog retailers might want to cast a wider net. Local television ads get you some attention, but without a physical location, there’s no point in limiting yourself that way.

AdAge published a list back in October of the priciest TV shows to advertise during in 2019. It’s not surprising that Sunday Night Football tops the list, as well as shows like Empire and Young Sheldon.

Tips to Reduce TV Advertising Costs

Hesitant about investing in television airtime commercials because of the costs?

The following tips will help you reduce expenses when buying airtime or creative resources to put your commercial together.

How to Control Television Airtime Costs

  • Once is NEVER enough: The more weeks you buy, the lower your cost per showing. Experts say it takes at least seven “nos” before people will begin saying “yes.”
  • Lower your expectations: Be flexible with times, stations and days of the week.
  • Play with fire: If you can find a fire sale, you’ll have to purchase airtime way in advance, but you’ll get a good deal.

How to Control Television Production Costs

  • Use freelancer platforms: Sites like ProductionHub can provide contact with creative pros to write, edit and/or produce your commercial at lower costs.
  • Buy individual commercial elements: Use a freelancer to put together creative elements you pre-purchase including stock video, music, graphic elements and more. Search through marketplaces like VideoHive and Shutterstock to find what you need.

Paid Advertising Alternatives to TV Commercials

Are television ads still out of your budget? 

The following paid alternatives may be better for your budget until you’re able to invest in commercials.

Streaming Service Commercials (OTT/CTV Advertising)

Streaming services like Hulu and Sling are doing so well, they even advertise on traditional TV. These over-the-top (OTT) types of services are popular, but advertising here is still very much the wild, wild, west of marketing.

What does this mean for you?

Best practices haven’t yet been established. The good thing is that Media Post reports 52 percent of cord-cutters are okay with some ads.

Streaming service advertising includes both OTT and CTV (Connected TV). 

As with television advertising, more popular networks like Hulu and Sling will be costly. But media publication Brand Networks recommends cutting costs by advertising on “emerging” services like Crackle, PlutoTV, IMDb, FreeDive and FuboTV.

YouTube Ads

The six-second “bumper” ad before and after YouTube videos is a great way to warm-up to doing longer spots on cable or national television. Blue Corona has some helpful tips on how much they cost in 2019.

Online Versions of Print Publications

Another place to “practice” making commercials or TV ads is in major magazine websites. Check out their media kits to find video prices.

Inc & Entrepreneur both charged $240 per 1,000 views in 2019.

TV Advertising: Is It Worth the Investment? 

Passive video advertising is the easiest way to get prospects to pay attention. With careful planning and practice, you’ll see your bottom line soar.