Lead Forensics

TV Advertising Costs: The Factors

Naturally, we receive a multitude of questions about the cost of advertising on TV. Why is it more accessible compared to, say, a decade ago? How are costs calculated? And, perhaps most frequently of all, what impacts TV advertising costs?

18 December 2018

Did you know the average cost of one view of a TV advertising spot is now just £0.6? Crazy, right?

TV advertising costs are generally lower than they used to be due to the explosion in the number of channels available to viewers. Armed with over 300 portals to niche interest groups and demographics, television advertisers can now target audiences with unprecedented accuracy and cost-efficiency. Airtime is typically traded on a Cost Per Thousand (CPT) model, which in layman’s terms translates to the price of reaching one thousand viewers.

Now, let’s focus on the last of the three questions: what influences TV advertising costs?

Time of day

The time of day your commercial airs has a big impact on your Cost Per Thousand. Typically, daytime hours (09:00-17:30) attract smaller viewing audiences, and therefore lower TV ratings. It’s these ratings that determine the CPT for your desired audience. The peak time-slots, on the other hand, command large evening audiences – increasing the costs of advertising on TV as a result. Consequently, daytime is often regarded as the domain of Direct Response strategies, while peak is seen as prime real estate for branding activity. Though really, TV is both of these at all times.


The more specific the audience you buy in to, the higher the costs. This draws us back to those TV Ratings, or the percentage of your specified audience tuning in at that time. So, if you’re advertising during the day, you will most likely be buying into all adults (16+) and therefore securing cheaper CPTs. Conversely, if you want to access premium peak airtime then you’ll generally have to buy into a more defined audience group. If you’re targeting Males 16-34, the specificity of your audience means a higher percentage of it will be watching. There are exceptions to this rule, however, so talk to us to find out more.


TV advertising costs fluctuate by month and time of year. It’s all a question of supply and demand. Typically, the winter months draw larger viewing audiences keen to stay indoors and out of the cold. Brands look to tap into this, and costs rise accordingly. As for the summer months? Unless there’s a big sporting event, it’s the opposite. The build up to Christmas also drives fees up, again because of higher viewing figures and more businesses seeking airtime. Interestingly, however, Christmas itself sees prices drop, with most brands ending their television activity by Christmas eve.

Ad length

The length of your TV advert will also be a factor in how much you pay. The rate card – from which all agencies formulate TV plans – is based on the industry-standard 30-second time-length, but advertisers can also run 10-, 20-, 40- and 60-second spots. A 10-second ad is half the cost of a 30-second, while a 60-second is double. It all boils down to what you want to achieve. Often, advertisers will air a combination of lengths, with the shorter variations typically reinforcing the marketing message communicated in a longer one.

Learn more about TV advertising costs

While these factors will affect the cost of TV advertising, it is the approach you and your media agency take that will have the biggest impact. Through a process of testing, learning and optimising activity around the best-performing areas, TV can be a cost-efficient option. And with an increasing array of targeting options at regional or even addressable levels, it’s getting even cheaper.

Get in touch to discover how we can cost-effectively get your brand on TV.

Let's get social