Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Cost of Infomercials

Each day the telephone rings in our offices with questions about budget. This blog exists to answer the most common questions about what I call the wacky, wonderful world of infomercials -- my world! So let's get right to it.....

TV Production: In order to air a long form infomercial, you must produce a half hour TV show. Like anything, production budgets vary greatly from low-budget talk shows with the author of a book pitching to the camera to higher budget shows with multiple cameras, varied locations, celebrity talent, etc. A low-budget talk show style infomercial can cost as little as $20,000.00 and a beautiful high-end show with about a week of shooting and a 12 person cast would cost around $75,000.00. Remember, the investment you make in production is a one time cost. You can create short form spots and utilize the video assets on the internet and more - so we always recommend putting a few extra dollars into the TV production.

Media and Airtime: Ok, so now you have a show. where do you air it, and how much does it cost? Again, of course, you get what you pay for. If you air on a local cable system's classified or infomercial channel - what are the chances that anyone will see it? These types of "stations" provide the cheapest airtime and to have any chance of success you must air your show frequently or on a pay for performance basis. These type of infomercial airings should run under $50 and as low as $10. Now what if your show airs on a network (think ABC, CBC, NBC) and has a clean lead in? What is a lead in? -- the previous program -- think Jay Leno's prime time show killing the ratings on the local newscasts. That's the importance of the lead in. I know in my house we watch the local news, network news and therefore, the TV is often on the local NBC affiliate when we turn on the TV. So even though the station is a local station, and even if it is a small market, those airings can cost $1000 - $5000.00. Maybe in your house you watch a lot of CNBC during the week to track your millions. Well there are a lot of infomercials on CNBC during the weekend, and, of course these are "primo" national spots costing well over $10,000.00 per airing.

Well, we could go on and on. The bottom line: Your media buyer better be smart and experienced.