``American Idol,'' the most-watched show on U.S. television, is capitalizing on its popularity and a strike in Hollywood to set records for advertising prices.
Even before TV writers walked out Nov. 5, News Corp.'s Fox network commanded at least $780,000 for advance 30-second spots, about 30 percent more than in the previous year, ad buyers with knowledge of the deals said. Commercials bought now, just before the premiere tomorrow, are priced in the low $900,000s, up about 50 percent from a year earlier, said the buyers, who asked not to be named because the figures aren't public.
``Idol'' will probably lead the News Corp. TV network to victory for the fourth straight year in the race for prime-time viewers ages 18 to 49, those most sought by advertisers. After losing viewers last year, the show may get new life in its seventh season as the strike limits what rival networks offer.
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