CBS seeks up to $1.5 million for ads in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ series finale (EXCLUSIVE)

 CBS hopes to get a bigger bang out of the very last episode of “The Big Bang Theory.”

The network is seeking between $1.2 million and $1.5 million for a 30-second ad in the finale of the veteran series, according to two people familiar with negotiations between CBS and its advertisers. Those figures would represent a price approximately five to six times higher than the average cost to run an ad in the show this season. The last original episode in the series is slated for broadcast on May 16.

CBS declined to make executives available for comment.

The prices are astronomical in the current market, and suggest CBS is confident in the power of the series’ denouement to attract a sizable crowd at a time when doing so has become more complex, thanks to viewer migration to streaming services and video-on-demand. The series, led by Chuck Lorre and produced by Warner Brothers, and starring Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, is in the midst of its 12th season on the air.

The average cost for a 30-second ad in “Big Bang” for the current season hovers around $258,500, according to estimates from four media buyers. At $1.5 million, the price for a 30-second spot in the series finale would represent a 480% premium over current-season ad costs.

Yet series finales often draw bigger crowds than a normal episode. The last episode of “Seinfeld” drew 76 million viewers, for example, when NBC showed it on May 14, 1998. And the final original broadcast of “M*A*S*H” lured a whopping 105.9 million viewers when CBS ran it in 1983 – and remains one of the most-watched TV events of all time.

The cost to advertise in each of those shows was eye-popping: NBC sought between $1.4 million and $1.8 million for a 30-second spot in the “Seinfeld” ending, while CBS pressed for $450,000 to run a spot in the last broadcast of “M*A*S*H.”

Other famous finales have also cost big sums. A 30-second ad berth in the last episode of “Friends,” which ran on NBC in 2004, went for between $1.5 million and $2.3 million, while a 30-second slot in CBS’ final episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” in 2005 cost around $1.3 million.

Even so, the figures CBS is seeking for “Big Bang” are higher than the ad costs associated with more recent series farewells. CBS sought a mere $500,000 for a 30-second spot in the last episode of “How I Met Your Mother” in 2014. In 2010,  ABC pressed for between $850,000 and $900,000 for a 30-second spot on the last episode of “Lost, “ while Fox asked for $650,000 for the same amount of inventory in the series finale of the original run of “24.”

“Big Bang” has been among TV’s most pricey programs for advertisers. Football games are typically command TV’s highest ad prices, but “Big Bang” is among the most expensive scripted shows on TV for Madison Avenue, according to Variety’s annual survey of TV ad prices. In the 2017-2018 TV season, only AMC’s “Walking Dead” NBC’s “This Is Us” and Fox’s “Empire” cost more. A 30-second ad in “Dead” cost an average of $415,000 while a 30-second spot in “Us” cost “394,3145” and one in “Empire” cost an average of $294.141. In 2017, a 30-second spot in “Big Bang” went for an average of $255,419.

This season, some of that positioning was reversed. A 30-second ad in “Empire” cost $196,310, compared with “Bang’s” current $258,000. Costs for “Dead” and “Us” remain higher.

The outsize price for the “Big Bang” finale isn’t likely to apply to every sponsor. Advertisers who purchased the show during TV’s annual “upfront” ad-sales market probably got a better deal. The current figures may represent an early offer, and buyers can haggle. Whether CBS accepts something lower will no doubt depend on demand.

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LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: 'The Line Substitution Solution' -- Pictured: Trevor (Blake Anderson), Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar). Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly (Christine Baranski), comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 5 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: 'The Line Substitution Solution' -- Pictured: Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Stuart (Kevin Sussman) and Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg). Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly (Christine Baranski), comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 5 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: 'The Line Substitution Solution' -- Pictured: Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly (Christine Baranski), comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 5 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
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BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 09: (L-R) Actors Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch, Kunal Nayyar, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik and Johnny Galecki perform onstage during the 24th and final 'A Night at Sardi's' to benefit the Alzheimer's Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 23: 'The Workplace Proximity' -- Howard (Simon Helberg, left) finds himself sleeping on Raj'™s couch after a fight with Bernadette, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Oct. 17 (8:00 -“ 8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Also pictured: Johnny Galecki (right) (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 15: 'The Gorilla Dissolution' -- Howard (Simon Helberg, left) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch, right) struggle to care for Mrs. Wolowitz, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 8 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Kaley Cuoco is seen at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on September 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Kaley Cuoco is seen in Los Angeles on September 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Kaley Cuoco is seen in Los Angeles on September 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Kaley Cuoco (R) and husband Ryan Sweeting (L) attend HBO's 2014 Emmy after party at The Plaza at the Pacific Design Center on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
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LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Kaley Cuoco arrives to the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
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BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 18: Actress Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting arrives at The PEOPLE Magazine Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 18, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - MAY 18: CBS announces their new fall schedule. (Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images) *** CBS presented its 2016-17 prime time schedule today (May 18) at Carnegie Hall, where many of the Networks new and returning series stars were in attendance. Pictured L-R: Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Simon Helberg, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, and Johnny Galecki from THE BIG BANG THEORY *** Melissa Rauch;Mayim Bialik;Simon Helberg;Kaley Cuoco;Jim Parsons;Johnny Galecki
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 9: 'The Hook-Up Reverberation' -- Raj's honesty about his past comes back to haunt him after his girlfriend, Emily, is cold to Penny. Also, the guys consider becoming part-owners in Stuart's comic book store, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, Oct. 6 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Laura Spencer, Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
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