Production Cost of US National TV Spot Rises 8%

15 October 2002

Bucking the advertising recession, the average production cost of a 30-second national TV commercial increased in 2001 by 8% to $358,000 (€362,637; £229,324). So reports the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ annual Television Production Cost Survey.

The figure, which excludes agency commission, marks a dramatic rise in production costs, which decreased by 3% in 2000. The decline in cost that year, however, was mainly attributable to the SAG/AFTRA strike against the advertising industry, according to David Perry, chairman of the AAAA broadcast production committee and executive vp/head of production at Saatchi & Saatchi, New York.

But, says Perry, this is not comparing like with like. A more meaningful comparison is that between 2001 and 1999, the pre-strike year, reflecting a 3.5% increase over two years.

Matt Miller, president/ceo of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers disagrees with the validity of Perry’s numbers (a favorite annual refrain). “It’s very premise – the concept of averaging things that by their very nature are unique – is misleading,” he argues.

Miller also doubts that commercial production costs have risen. “Advertisers have been watching their budgets. It's been a tough year. In tough years the price [of production] tends to be static or go down.”

The AAAA annual report is based on the responses of twenty US agencies, including all the top 10 shops. Of the 1,725 national commercials they reported, 69% percent were 30-second commercials; the remainder varying in time.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff